Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
Your former minister for Primary Industries and Water was overseas five weeks ago on an all-expenses paid trip to China with the secretary of her department. You revealed yesterday that she told you three days ago she was having a relationship with Dr Whittington. A spectacular fall from grace of the new minister and long serving bureaucrat is the result.
This brings into question every decision Ms Courtney made in her short time as minister and whether she was acting on independent, impartial advice. When will Tasmanians who care about animal welfare, for example, have clarity on the disgraced minister's conduct in relation to the deaths of 16 ponies on the Spirit of Tasmania, an investigation with all the hallmarks of a cover-up and without an end in sight?
Do you agree every single decision made by this minister is now under a cloud?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I do not for a minute accept or condone the characterisation that the member has placed on what is, in addition to, important matters concerning a conflict of interest and decisions made by the minister which will be inquired into, appropriately so, independently. It will take the time necessary for that to occur and should not be subject to an attempted interference by opposition members.
Ms O'Connor - Will this be like the Brooks email inquiry?
Mr HODGMAN - This is a case that does involve individuals and personal circumstances. I had hoped members might extend some respect or at least an appreciation of that. Given that when the member who asked the question and the circumstances that she previously found herself in, we made a similar call for privacy to be respected - I do not recall anyone else in this House declaring that to be a disgrace, as you have just done.
I can assure members who are interested in the facts and the substance as to decisions made by the minister, they will be appropriately assessed and that is so. That will occur in due course and as quickly as possible. That process needs to be run independently and, I suggest, without the gratuitous commentary from members opposite.