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Ministerial Statement – Naming of Senior Public Servants

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Tags: Transparency, Parliament

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, we are incredibly concerned at the actions of the Premier and frankly gobsmacked that he has fallen to this level. He is so dishonourable and so untrustworthy, every single thing that he says to us in this Chamber, we have to ask ourselves whether he is telling the truth.

On this matter, it is very clear there has been a concerted pincer movement from the Premier and the head of the State Service, Jenny Gale. Ms Gale wrote to me last night, two months after a comment I made in this place, regarding remarks I made in parliament on 2 March, where she claims she feels personally aggrieved by my comments. She does not detail what the comments were. I have gone back to the record and there is only one record where I made a comment. It was a list of public servants in relation to conflict of interest, an MPI, and we raised a range of public servants where there are questions about people who have had plum positions given to them, including Justin Heimlich, who worked for Roger Jaensch; Vanessa Pinto, who worked for Guy Barnett; Leanne McLean, the Commissioner for Children, who worked for Jeremy Rockliff; Jenny Gale, Department of Education secretary then who worked for Jeremy Rockliff. I could go on.

Mr Speaker, the point is that this is a concerted movement because the Premier and the head of the public service, Jenny Gale, have taken this point together today and the Premier's intention is to deflect from the stinking stadium deal which Tasmanians are outraged at.

What we have is a letter that the Premier claims was written to him on 5 May. It may well be the case that the commissioner wrote to him again on 5 May because she certainly wrote to him on 1 May with a letter that had exactly the same words in it as he read out to us from the letter ostensibly on 5 May.

We have a clear breach of the standing orders. He obviously has had another letter sent to him so that he is not in breach of the rules of the House - but he is, and he has done a dishonourable act. I am not on that committee but I know members of that committee will be able to attest that the comments he has made today do not reflect the tripartite view of this place when it comes to the most important matter that we should be talking about today from the Motion for Respect workplace culture review.

The Premier comes in, at the first opportunity, to talk about actions of this Government in relation to the Motion for Respect - the tripartisan, all members' support for changing workplace culture - and to talk about changing our right to speak frankly and without fear in this place on matters of public importance, to scrutinise the actions of the Government, to scrutinise the political appointments - and the secretary of DPAC is a political appointment. If we cannot come into this place and call out the actions of these most senior public servants when they are allowed to be named in the newspaper, but we cannot mention their name in the House, then we cannot do our job. It is our job - as the Greens did, and the Commonwealth parliament, holding Mr Pezzulo to account for his actions. It is our job. The Commission of Inquiry made it abundantly clear that these most senior public servants have to be called to account. They cannot be faceless.

The hypocrisy of this Government: I have here, when Mr Matthew Groom was in parliament in 2012 talking about Simon Overland in the most despicable language. This Government has form. It now has the Premier who stood here, when he took over as Premier of Tasmania and promised to Tasmanians that he would be different, that he would be a 'man of heart'. What do we have here? He is using the Workplace Culture Committee and the good intentions of every member of this place for a political opportunity: to distract from the stadium deal; to distract from the people who are homeless; and the people who are on the St Helens waiting list and have nowhere to go in six weeks' time. We have three beds. This is what this is about, and it should be called out for what it is.

We will defend the right to speak with absolute candour in this place: If it can be said in the newspaper, it can be said in here. We get to look them in the eyes and get them to answer questions, and that is our job. We will continue to do our job for the people of Tasmania.

At this point, I would like to hear the Premier make an apology for his actions today. Not only has he breached the committee processes in the most faceless way, he is undermining the whole processes of the House and obviously using it for a political motive.

I believe he owes Tasmanians an apology. He has his eye so far off the ball, the real ball, which is the health service and the housing system in Tasmania. That is what he should be focusing on. We deserve an apology for this.