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Conflicts of Interest

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 2 March 2023

Tags: Conflict of Interest

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, this has been an enlightening week of the worst sort. We have seen that the Liberal Party in Tasmania has sunk to a point where they do not understand the merit-based process, in which case none of them are fit to hold public office. If it is not clear what a conflict of interest is when it is written as explicitly as it has been by the Integrity Commission in our own members' code of conduct, if that cannot be understood, the black and-white obvious example of which the Speaker, the member for Lyons, Mark Shelton -

Mr SPEAKER - I will remind you, Dr Woodruff, that allegations against members must be by way of a substantive motion. We are on a Matter of Public Importance.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is a matter of public record that the ABC published -

Mr SPEAKER - I am talking about allegations.

Dr WOODRUFF - I am not making the allegation. I am reporting the observation that has been made that there was blatant conflict of interest operating in the matter of Bracknell Hall and the actions of Mr Shelton.

Mr SPEAKER - Be very careful.

Dr WOODRUFF - That is a matter of national media comment. The member for Lyons, that is a matter of national media comment. The fact that it is not clear, and it is such an extreme example, is very concerning. It is about a matter that benefits a member of this place and his immediate family.

I believe the Liberals understand that very well, which is why there have been endless attempts at subterfuge to try to hide what is an obscene misuse of public money. Not only the $400 000 that went in a totally untransparent manner, never listed in the budget papers, as asserted it was, and never described or detailed in the supplementary budget, as it has falsely been claimed that it was. Numerous times we have had to force that particular matter to be corrected when ministers have tried to gaslight us and Tasmanians to pretend that it was part of the formal budget process. It definitely was not. There is no doubt about that.

There has been a deliberate attempt at cover up, which shows me, the Greens and any Tasmanians who are watching, that the Liberals know that there should be merit-based processes for the dispersal of public funds, and ministers especially should declare conflicts of interest. Any member should declare a conflict of interest. It is obscene that members of a sitting government in the Westminster system in 2023 do not understand that and do not understand that this is a serious matter to the social fabric, confidence and trust of Tasmanians, not just in the member, or even the Government, but in the whole operation of government.

That is exactly the problem. When conflicts of interest are not declared, when there are corrupt practices, when self interest occurs, when there is influence brought to bear to garner outcomes that are not fair, not open for all and not transparent, it raises a question over every single decision made by elected officials, by members, by staff of agencies. It is not fair on them. That is what happens in people's minds. We have a sacred trust this place to tell the truth and to step aside from conflicts that will benefit us directly or indirectly, or any family members directly or indirectly.

The Leader of the Greens has detailed the history of the Liberals in government, but only a tiny part. I want to run through the Auditor General's report in 2017 of the 2015 16 year. In that year alone the Auditor General identified conflicts of interests in appointments in the State Service - eight senior public service appointments, three of whom had conflict of interest situations. They were not declared and they were not properly managed. Three out of eight in that year.

Since then, we have had a look and there is a whole raft of mates who have been given special jobs. Not small amounts of money. We are not talking $50 000 or $60 000, which is not to be sniffed at - we are talking pay of $300 000 to $400 000. These are special jobs for ex Liberal staffers. People like Will Hodgman's chief of-staff, Tim Baker, who became DPIPWE's secretary straight away. What a sweet job. Peter Gutwein's chief of-staff, Andrew Finch, is now heading up the Major Stadiums Authority, whatever that is. It was cooked up to give him a job. I guess he would probably get an equivalent salary - $300 000? Something like that. Just guessing. These did not go through a merit based process. There was no tender.

Justin Helmich, the Office of Racing Integrity, worked for Roger Jaensch. Vanessa Pinto, Business Services, ENRAT, worked for Guy Barnett. Leanne McLean, Commissioner for Children, worked for Jeremy Rockliff. Jenny Gale, Education secretary, also worked for Jeremy Rockliff. I could go on. I am running out of time. The point is, the public is sick of this and they want their Government to stand for something -

Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker -

Dr WOODRUFF - This has been going on since Will Hodgman, Peter Gutwein and Jeremy Rockliff -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, we have a point of order.

Mr BARNETT - I draw the attention of the Chamber to the offensive remarks made by the member for Franklin with respect to a whole range of public servants. I draw that not to just your attention but to the member's attention and ask her to reconsider her dreadful offensive remarks.

Dr WOODRUFF - They are questions to be asked.

Mr Barnett - Naming people.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - It is not a point of order, thanks, minister.