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Ms Ogilvie Privileges Committee referral

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Tags: Misleading Parliament

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I have just seen something really interesting happen in this Chamber. We had Ms Ogilvie, five minutes ago during a division, in a mask.

Ms Ogilvie - I was at a meeting with a mask. I'm happy to put it back on.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, I am curious to know if Ms Ogilvie is infectious, or angling for a sickie tomorrow. I don't know.

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Ms O'CONNOR - I wear a mask because I understand COVID-19, Mr Speaker.

Mr Ellis - Is that why you were wearing a mask 30 seconds ago?

Ms O'CONNOR - I wear a mask because I understand COVID-19, Mr Ellis.

Mr Ellis - Are you not wearing one now?

Mr SPEAKER - Order. The House will come to order. Ms O'Connor has the call.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am possibly one of the few people in this place who has not had COVID-19.

Mr Ferguson - Yes, now you have to spit on everyone.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr Ferguson - Why are you bringing to attention what another member may be or not wearing, Ms O'Connor?

Ms O'CONNOR - You walked right into that, Mr Ferguson, who was in this House on the last sitting day of last year, unmasked and infectious.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Ms O'CONNOR - Anyway, Mr Speaker, what a day. This is a day that is fundamentally about integrity and trust in politics. We are here and we certainly support the seeking of leave to debate a censure motion but I cannot remember the last time the Liberals in government allowed a debate to progress past the seeking of leave. It goes to the issues that were raised by Ms O'Byrne before: we are never able to make the case or have the debate on matters that go to public trust and integrity.

It is very unfortunate that the Government does not seem to have enough confidence in itself to have these debates. I remind members that during the four years of the Labor Greens government there were some 50 hours of censure and no confidence debates. We always allowed them to progress because that is about public trust. This matter should be debated.

There is a legitimate question over the Minister for Racing's integrity. We can quibble about the language that was used yesterday but lying by omission is misleading.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor, I allowed you to get away with it yesterday but this is not the substantive debate. You cannot accuse a member of lying and you cannot say it.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is a shame that we will not be allowed to progress the censure motion -

Mr SPEAKER - That is the tradition.

Mr Ferguson - It's a tradition. Withdraw.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am making a statement about terms. This is what I said, 'lying by omission' is the same as 'misleading'. I am not accusing Ms Ogilvie. I am making a statement.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, we have had this debate in this Chamber before. We talked about the standing of politicians in our community. Using the word 'liar' when referring to a person is inappropriate. As I have said, surely you can choose some other words. This is not the substantive debate. When it comes to that, I need to allow it but in the seeking of leave -

Ms O'CONNOR - Did I just hear you flag the potential that we will get to a substantive debate? Mr Speaker, you might use your casting vote to allow it. You said, 'when it comes to that'. Does that mean for the first time in the history of this parliament -

Mr SPEAKER - Do not try to put the words into my mouth.

Ms O'CONNOR - I was not. I was trying to interpret exactly what you said, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you have the floor. You can continue.

Ms Ogilvie - Withdraw the word.

Dr Woodruff - She didn't call her a liar.

Ms Ogilvie - Good. If no one's calling me that then that's great.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Ms O'CONNOR - Ms Ogilvie has taken offence to me accurately saying that 'lying by omission is misleading'. I withdraw.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, when you are asked to withdraw, you need to withdraw without commentary.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. I am still not 100 per cent certain what I have to withdraw but if Ms Ogilvie has taken offence because I have simply stated a fact.

Mr Ferguson - Just withdraw. Unqualified. Just do it.

Ms O'CONNOR - I withdraw whatever it is Ms Ogilvie has taken offence to.

The bottom line is we all know about the media release that was put out by the Minister for Racing last year. If you apply the reasonable person test that media release was misleading. It is possible to be misleading by leaving out the facts. I think that a reasonable person looking at the Minister for Racing's media release of last year would be led to believe that the former CEO of Tasracing has left the position (a) voluntarily, and (b) simply to go to Sydney to spend more time with their family.

While the upshot of it is, the former CEO of Tasracing undoubtedly has gone to Sydney to spend more time with his family, it is not the case he left the position voluntarily as we understand it as a result of the testimony of Gene Phair from Tasracing in Estimates last year. What we now know is that the former CEO of Tasracing was sacked; his position was terminated but that was not made clear in the minister's media release.

It is interesting that when it suits them Government ministers who have responsibility for statutory authorities or GBEs say 'That is out of my hands. They are operational matters, we do not interfere'. Yet we have had the Minister for Housing come in here on any number of occasions and talk about the operations of Homes Tasmania, the newly established statutory authority. When it suits Government ministers they will speak for and about GBEs or other statutory authorities for which they have portfolio responsibility and when it does not suit them, suddenly it is all hand off. That is what we have from Ms Ogilvie.

It is regrettable that we have a government that is trapped in an endless spin cycle. This is about the minister's integrity and we should have the debate. I hope the Speaker uses his casting vote appropriately.