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Conduct of Members

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Tags: Parliament

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not intend to make a long contribution this evening. I want to acknowledge that there was some really poor behaviour from some of our colleagues in this place today. The subject of questioning and scrutiny in this House in question time and during the matter of public importance debate was how the Department of Education responds to historical and contemporary complaints or allegations of sexual abuse. It is the most serious of matters and there is now a full report, which the Greens tabled in parliament today during the MPI debate.

We undertook a media conference today at 1.15 p.m. and during that media conference, it has been brought to my attention that the Liberal member for Lyons, Mr Tucker, and the Liberal member for Braddon, Mr Ellis, thought it was the funniest of jokes to walk behind our press conference today, which was held in the atrium because it was raining, stomping and chortling.

I understand that both Mr Tucker and Mr Ellis are relatively new members of this House and perhaps they have not understood the importance of treating very serious matters that come before this place with the gravity that they deserve. Perhaps those members think everything in here is a joke. It is not. Perhaps those members think that when the Greens raise their voices that it is part of their job to deride us.

We were talking to journalists today about the matters that were contained in the Department of Education inquiry undertaken by Professor Michael Smallbone and Professor Tim McCormack. This relates to how parents in Tasmania should feel about the safety of their children when they are sent in to our public schools. It was witnessed by multiple journalists and camera operators when Mr Tucker and Mr Ellis thought it was the funniest of jokes to walk behind our press conference stomping and giggling, witnessed, while we were talking about how safe our children are in our schools.

We are put here to work for the people of Tasmania. The people of Tasmania pay taxes, pay our wages, and when they elect us they expect us to behave in this place with integrity and propriety but to behave like adults. I believe that is what they expect of us. They have been very poorly served by the conduct of Mr Tucker and Mr Ellis today. It was witnessed. It was heard.

Mr Tucker and Mr Ellis were not put in here to make light of the most serious matters. They were put in here to work for, and we all remember the words, the true welfare of the people of Tasmania. While it might suit your political purposes to have a crack at us at a press conference, it does not serve the people of Tasmania -

Ms COURTNEY - Point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. With regards to your contribution, Ms O'Connor, you have every right to be able to say what you feel you need to during adjournment -

Ms O'Connor - And what's your point of order?

Ms COURTNEY - The point of order is you are reflecting on the person in the Chair, which is inappropriate.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am not. Thank you, Ms Courtney, I have been extraordinarily cautious in the way that I have framed my contribution tonight but it is necessary to put this on the Hansard record because we are not elected to make fun in this place of matters of great gravity. We are not elected to deride other members in this place when they speak to the media on matters of significant public interest.

All I will say in closing is that Mr Tucker and Mr Ellis did a disservice to the people of Lyons and Braddon by behaving like children during our press conference today, a press conference which was about the Department of Education's response to historical and indeed contemporary allegations of child sexual abuse.

I understand, Ms Courtney, your desire to run cover for Mr Tucker and Mr Ellis but it will not wash because we are not elected to this place to be idiots and to deride legitimate public discourse about the safety of our children in public educational settings. I encourage Mr Tucker and Mr Ellis to reflect on the oath that we swear when we have the great privilege of being elected to represent the people of Tasmania. That oath is to work for the true welfare of the people of Tasmania, so I say to Mr Tucker and Mr Ellis, 'Grow up'.