Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr BARNETT
Minister, in response to media reporting on a briefing minute released under RTI that revealed it was recommended that you curtail Tasmania's duck hunting season, the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tim Baker, issued a statement claiming you had never received the minute titled 'Open Season on Wild Duck 2020'.
Earlier this year, your response to questioning from the Greens in parliament contained phrases and information contained within that briefing minute.
No other briefing minutes in relation to duck hunting were released under our RTI request. How do you explain this difference? Is it normal for your department to issue a recommendation in a briefing minute to you, for you to never see that briefing minute, and then for your secretary to decide unilaterally to act against the explicit advice recommended in the minute, all without your knowledge or input?
Minister, are you prepared to state on the record in parliament that you never saw this briefing minute and were in no way involved in the decision to open up the duck hunting season as usual?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and her persistence in pursuing a conspiracy theory because that is what the Greens are very good at, and you are at it again - a conspiracy theory.
I responded honestly and as comprehensively as possible in my earlier answer. I am not sure if you were not listening, but I am happy to repeat what I said earlier.
Ms O’Connor - No.
Mr BARNETT - Yes, I will. You have asked me the same question yet again. Madam Speaker, they are entitled to use their questions how they will, and they have asked me the same question.
Ms O’CONNOR - Madam Speaker, point of order, the minister is trying to avoid giving an honest answer to this question. He is actually misrepresenting the question we asked and he knows it. He is trying to insult parliament by just reading out the brief he read out before. This is actually a really important issue that goes to your credibility and the governance of your department.
Madam SPEAKER - I accept your concern, Ms O'Connor. You understand my restrictions in being able to direct the minister. I do ask the minister to be relevant.
Mr BARNETT - Absolutely, Madam Speaker, I am as relevant as hitting the nail on the head. That is what we are doing, and I have called them out because it is a conspiracy. It is a Greens conspiracy. You have a track record, we know. You can do this all day long, bring up conspiracy after conspiracy and we will respond honestly.
I make it very clear that there has been no evidence of long-term decline in duck numbers. You say it is not true.
Ms O'Connor - Have a look at the graphs.
Mr BARNETT - This is based on advice that goes in, year in, year out, including under the Labor-Greens government. Did you ever ban duck hunting?
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Will the minister state on the record for parliament that he never saw the minute and that he was in no way involved in the decision to open the duck hunting season this year against the advice of his department?
Madam SPEAKER - I accept that is a straightforward question and I ask the minister to give you a straightforward answer.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. They ask many parts in the first part of their question, but I will make it very clear: the draft minute the member referred to in her question was not provided by the department - I said this earlier, let us say it again - by me or by anyone in my office. How about that, Madam Speaker - is that clear? I answered that question earlier today; they have come back. They have a conspiracy theory.
That draft minute in question was not provided by the department to me or my office, Madam Speaker. How clear can you get?
I received no advice from the secretary that I should make a new order or an amendment order to change the provisions for the 2020 duck season. I was advised by the secretary's decision to open specified reserve land for duck hunting in the course of normal business shortly before the opening of the season.
That is the advice I received. I have passed that on. This is another conspiracy theory. You were in the Labor-Greens government and you never banned duck hunting.