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Ministerial Accountability

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Tags: Misleading Parliament, Ministerial Accountability

Ministerial Accountability, Cassy O'Connor MP, 13 October 2020



On the last sitting day of the last sitting week, your Minister for Human Services knowingly misled parliament over a previous Government decision to weaken tenancy protections. The lie is there in black and white, and so is the Hansard record of Mr Jaensch doubling down on his dishonesty.

When former attorney-general, Steve Kons, was caught lying to parliament in 2008, he was sacked by then premier, Paul Lennon, who understood his position was untenable. Even Paul Lennon understood that a lie to parliament is a sackable offence. However, you have not only stood by Mr Jaensch, you have reinforced his dishonest line that a decision of Cabinet is not a decision. It is like trying to tell us that black is white and day is night.

This is the standard you have set: a standard where dishonesty and the twisting of language is not only acceptable, it is encouraged and reinforced by you. How can it be that your standard of ministerial accountability is even lower than Paul Lennon's?



Madam Speaker, I did not hear the Labor Party jumping in to defend Mr Lennon there, which is surprising.

I thank the member for Clark for her question. I am disappointed by her actions in this matter. This parliament has worked collaboratively to ensure that we can deal with a world-wide pandemic. Processes were put in place in in response to the pandemic - and as a result, the Greens were inadvertently given some Cabinet papers that they should not have received. The staff member knows she should not have received the papers.

Ms O'Connor - Do not go after my staff member.

Mr GUTWEIN - It is disappointing.

Ms O'Connor - I do not get up in here and lie my face off.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr GUTWEIN - The Leader of the Greens has gone about this in a devious way, and it is very disappointing.

Ms O'Connor - It busted your minister and it busted your Government for trying to weaken tenancy protections. I was doing my job.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.

Mr GUTWEIN - I am not going to go into the deliberations of Cabinet but there was no final decision by Cabinet to change the law. That was very clear.

Ms O'Connor - Here we go - day is night. Black is white. Yes is no.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.

Mr GUTWEIN - There was no final decision to change the law. The minister's comments in parliament were quite correct in that regard. Until the final decision by Cabinet to change the law, and the release of a bill for public consultation and then introduction to this place, there is no decision by Cabinet to change the law. That is the bottom line.

Unfortunately, the actions of the Leader of the Greens say more about her than it does about us. We work collaboratively -

Ms O'Connor - Sure, just answer the question. Your standard is even lower than Paul Lennon.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.

Mr GUTWEIN - I am most disappointed by how quickly that side of the House has returned to the politics of old. The minister has not lied to the House, let me clear -


Opposition members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Mr GUTWEIN - but how quickly the parliament has returned to the politics of old.

On this side of the House we focus on keeping Tasmanians safe, protecting us from a world-wide pandemic, putting a budget together - the most important budget that the state has ever faced - and ensuring that we prepare for the bushfire season. And yet, the Leader of the Greens has attempted - in a devious way - to spring a trap. It has not worked.

The minister was correct: there was no final decision made by Cabinet to change the law. That decision has not been taken. The Leader of the Greens knows that.

Those on the other side of the House should reflect on their own conduct in this instance.