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Mr Brooks - Standards of Ministerial Behaviour


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Tags: Misleading Parliament, Email Audit

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN.

Earlier when we asked what standard of ministerial behaviour would be low enough for you to act decisively, desperately flailing about, you went back to the turn of the century and a former Labor member who was charged and hauled before the court. Is that a pointer to your expected standard of behaviour? Will Mr Brooks have to face criminal charges for you to rule out inviting him back into your Cabinet?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. It was not that long ago and the standard we are talking about is what occurred within the time that both of us had been in this place. It was a most undesirable circumstance where Bryan Green conducted himself in a way that was serious enough to be considered a breach of the Criminal Code that would require him to submit to two trials, which I must point out did not return a verdict. They were inconclusive. Notwithstanding all of that, the former member for Braddon, Mr Green, was able to stay in this parliament. He did not resign. It was not expected of him by the Labor Party, and nor did it worry you when you were able to get yourself into government with the Labor Party and sit alongside him at the Cabinet table.

Ms O'CONNOR - Madam Speaker, point of order, on relevance. The Premier is desperately flailing about. Could he confirm that it would take criminal charges against Mr Brooks for him not to be considered for Cabinet in the foreseeable future?

Madam SPEAKER - That is another example of the weakness of standing order 45. I ask the Premier to proceed.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I point to the fact that the Integrity Commission has found in this instance that there was no material conflict or material advantage gained.

Ms O'Connor - Semantics. Weasel words.

Mr HODGMAN - Semantics? This is unbelievable hypocrisy and carelessness to the extreme. These are the findings of the Integrity Commission. No advantage was obtained by Mr Brooks, no conflict, no breach of the code. This is very different to what Mr Green went through, that standard that you accepted.

With respect to the other matters contained within the report, as I very clearly said that they do not meet my expectations. They do not afford Mr Brooks the opportunity now, nor has it afforded him the opportunity to be a member of the Cabinet.

As to any further action that is taken with respect to this matter, it would be for independent authorities or any other members to determine what they wish to do. We are dealing here with the determination and the conclusion from the Integrity Commission, no less, which has been extraordinarily been dismissed by the member who asked the question as some sort of irrelevancy. Opposition members have suggested that we interfere in the business of the Integrity Commission. The member for Clark is now questioning the integrity of the Commission itself and its findings clearly by calling into question those findings.

Ms O'CONNOR - Madam Speaker, point of order. I ask the Premier to withdraw that false and misleading statement.

Madam SPEAKER - Premier, the member for Clark has taken offence at your accusation. I ask that you respectfully withdraw it.

Mr HODGMAN - Madam Speaker, I withdraw it, but I consider it entirely unacceptable for the member who objects to assert that the Government interfered in the timing of the tabling of the report. The member said that publicly and it was reported. It is entirely untrue and questions the integrity of the Integrity Commission. It is an integrity commission that was established under a former Labor government and has been supported since.

I recall former premier David Bartlett saying that he feared a time when the Integrity Commission would be used for political purposes. The former premier would be looking with disfavour on what is occurring now because that is exactly what has happened. We have had a direct plea from the Integrity Commission. In their annual report they said that the spurious and publicly made statements about the operations of the commission - indeed, references to it - are undermining its independence, politicising the process and deliberately damaging reputations.

We know that is all you are interested in. You want to damage people's reputations. If that means you have to call into question the operation of the Integrity Commission, then you will do that.

Members of the Labor Party have quite willingly declared that they are referring a matter to the Integrity Commission. Even though the Integrity Commission regrets that sort of conduct, I am sure it will continue. They are the depths the Labor Party have stooped to; they ignore requests of the Integrity Commission and, as former premier Bartlett said, use it for political purposes.

We respect the findings of the Integrity Commission. We will respond to these matters appropriately as we have done.