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Code of Conduct

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 29 November 2018

Tags: Privileges Committee, Code of Conduct

Dr WOODRUFF - Ms Butler went out. Well done, that is really good to hear.

Mr Deputy Speaker, what we need now is for the Labor and Liberal parties to not only listen but take action, which means having an end to coal- fired power stations by 2030. That is the sort of thing we need to do. We can agree to disagree on the environment but the Greens are here to talk about process and proper scrutiny. Let us face it, we do not trust that the level of scrutiny will be sufficient without a member of the Greens on that committee. It is quite clear that we have been consistent on the issues of integrity in this parliament.

This motion is about changing the standing orders to add the code of conduct, and I completely support the comments made by Ms White. The only reason this is here before us today is because members of Labor and the Greens on the Integrity Committee have been making consistent noises and pushing this along for years. I sat on the Integrity Committee with Lara Giddings when she was there and it was only the two of us who were pushing and pushing to keep the recommendation of the Integrity Commission to bring it to life.

So here we are today. The committee agreed on this code of conduct in the middle of last year. We could have finished it and it could have been brought before parliament before the state election. What a surprise, it got pushed off until after the state election because - shock, horror - the Liberals in government could not possibly throw everything into such confusion by giving members an extra responsibility in terms of their code of conduct before an election. 'Oh, no, let's just leave it. We would not want to presume to speak for a new parliament.' There were incredible faux excuses that were made as a way of justifying why we could not bring this in last year. The same document has been sitting there for over a year. Meanwhile we have members of the Government, ministers, behaving with an extreme lack of integrity, misconduct and, as we know, repeated lies from some of them, not telling the truth or lying by omission.

We had silence from minister Courtney about her relationship, but meanwhile she and the secretary of her department were both merrily signing off fish farm expansions and biosecurity issues. Who knows what else was happening during that period? We have never had a proper investigation into the decisions that were taken by minister Courtney in that period of time and whether there was a conflict. There was an investigation done. I just have to speak from first principles. It is hard to feel confident that it was rigorous enough in the questions asked because it was during that period while the Premier was acting as the minister for Primary Industries that he signed off an approval for the Storm Bay fish farm expansion. It is clear that there is no set of rules governing probity, accountability, assessment, proper independent investigations. We have had a score of these happening over the last couple of years. It is a shameful situation today that this Government finds itself in, which is why it is really important that we have a code of conduct not just for ministers but for every member of parliament.

On the amendment itself, of course we support expanding the level of scrutiny on the Privileges Committee. There is no doubt that seven members would be better than five in almost any circumstance of an investigation. More eyes, more questions, more points of view can only be a good thing. When something is referred to the Privileges Committee it is only because it is an extremely serious allegation that has to be investigated so that all members of parliament can feel confident that the outcome has been properly considered and confident in the decisions of the committee. Therefore it makes complete sense to have all parties represented on that committee and the Greens ought to have a position there because we have been standing in this parliament for decades, speaking up for process and integrity. The Tasmanian people can be confident that if there is a Greens member on the committee, that committee will have had a good, red-hot shot at an investigation coming to an independent, well-scrutinised and fair conclusion.