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Motion of no Confidence

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Tags: No Confidence Motion, TasRacing

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, that was a paranoid, delusional rant, the likes of which I have never seen from Mr Ferguson. All of it was about politics, every word of it. It was this convoluted, twisted attempt not to deal with the substance of the issue here, which is a minister whose integrity is in question not just in this place but in the wider community, certainly within the racing industry and amongst animal welfare advocates. Every word that dropped out of Mr Ferguson's mouth then was all about the politics, a twisted, convoluted attempt to deflect from the fact that this is a visionless and stressed government.

It knows its days are numbered and sitting up the back there, although she has fled the Chamber, is a minister who has been demonstrated to be incompetent, incapable of doing her job, overseeing an industry which is falling further and further into disrepute, where you have whistleblowers who are terrified of speaking up. Again I want to warmly thank and give my great respect to whistleblowers who have spoken to the ABC, who have spoken to Labor and who have spoken to us, knowing there are potentially consequences because of the way this industry has been allowed to fall into a corrupted state as a result of the decline of standards in the Office of Racing Integrity and far too cosy relationships between the stewards and people like Ben Yole and Anthony Bullock.

If Mr Ferguson cannot recognise that this issue is not going to go away, I am sure that until the House is able to fully test confidence in this minister, this issue and this question will not go away. I know some people in here have short memories. It seems Mr Ferguson has a very short memory. For the four years we were in government between 2010 and 2014 I do not know how many countless hours were given to debates on confidence or censure and we always allowed the debate to proceed. That is the convention. If there is a question of confidence in a minister before the House, the convention is that the debate be allowed to proceed, but this Government is scared of having the debate, this visionless, tired, freaked-out excuse for a government. They have watched what happened in New South Wales at the weekend and are pooping themselves because they know their days are numbered. They know they are a dud government and we believe they are being held to ransom by the Minister for Racing, whose only loyalty is to herself. This question of confidence will not be resolved until the debate is had.

I do not know who is organising strategy in the Liberal Party, but whoever it is should be sacked. We must have this debate. These motions will keep coming up until the debate is had, and it is frankly insulting for Mr Ferguson to say Labor can do it in their private members' time. You should not time constrain on want of confidence. Again, short memories. We sometimes debated no confidence between 2010 14 for five, six and seven hours because the convention was respected that if there is a question of confidence the House be allowed to debate it and resolve it through a vote.

So many questions around integrity and the welfare of animals in this industry have not been answered by this hopeless minister. She thinks she can hide behind this independent investigation. That is where we are at now. Every time a question comes to her it is all 'Get on board for the path forward'. We are quite concerned that the minister only wants to look forward and that the minister and the terms of reference will not allow a review, an examination of events that have led to this place and led to the ABC's investigative report. In the nine years of this lot in Government, as far as I can remember, they have never allowed past the seeking of leave. Am I wrong?

Ms White - No - remember we moved a no confidence motion in Mr Ferguson and then he was sacked from the Health portfolio.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay, so we had one in nine years. You were a highly problematic Health minister. The question of integrity, of the minister, of the Office of Racing Integrity, is a huge outstanding question. Mr Ferguson should get out more. This is a major topic on people's lips. People are very concerned about the state of the racing industry, the way animals are treated, the corruption inside ORI.

I was reminded by Gavin Kelly, for example, that the stewards' panel fined him $1000 for refusing to carry a whip, and they gave a $200 fine to the Cottons for flogging a horse with a piece of poly pipe. Why did they pick on Gavin Kelly? Because he did not fall into line.

There is corruption inside the Office of Racing Integrity. That is why the industry is in the state that it is in. That is why people who love this industry - obviously the Greens do not love the industry, we love the animals - but that is why the people who love this industry are so distressed right now, because there is clear corruption inside the Office of Racing Integrity. Clear corruption. This is on this minister's watch, who does not even have the grace now to sit in the Chamber while we are seeking leave on a question of confidence in her.

Mr Ferguson - You are full of grace.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, that is very kind of you to say that. Thank you very much.

I am surprised that Mr Ferguson does not get this. The best he can do is talk about the politics. We do not have confidence in this minister and the House should be allowed to test it.