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Premier – Ministers misleading Parliament

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 23 November 2020

Tags: Misleading Parliament, Ministerial Accountability

Ms O'CONNOR - Premier, on 24 September we asked the Minister for Human Services about a decision that had been made to weaken protections under the Residential Tenancy Act. In response the minister, although he knew full well these changes had been made and we had the Cabinet decision to demonstrate that said -

I am not aware of any changes proposed or undertaken regarding making it more difficult …

And then he said:

I do not know what decision Ms O'Connor might be referring to.

It has been established that he in fact did know that the decision was made and also knew that that was the substance of the question. Prima facie, his answer was a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct as well as the Parliamentary Code of Conduct. What standards do you expect of your ministers?

Mr GUTWEIN - I do not accept the premise of your question.

Ms O'CONNOR - Black and white.

Mr GUTWEIN - Cabinet engages in deliberations. I am not going to go into those deliberations.

Ms O'CONNOR - I did not ask you to.

Mr GUTWEIN - Nor am I going to provide you with any satisfaction around this particular matter. At the end of the day -

Ms O'CONNOR - You are not going to tell us you expect them to uphold the Ministerial Code of Conduct?

Mr GUTWEIN - At the end of the day, my ministers will uphold the code but the politics that you are looking to play on this -

Ms O'CONNOR - It is about transparency.

Mr GUTWEIN - I do not agree with your proposition or the premise of your question.

Ms O'CONNOR - But the question - to be fair, the question and the answer are there in black and white. The minister did know a decision has been made and he said he did not know of any change that has been proposed or undertaken. It is very clear to anyone who looks at it with an impartial mind that the minister misled the parliament. I guess what I am looking for here from you is a statement that you expect all your ministers to uphold the highest standards of integrity and honesty and to uphold the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

Mr GUTWEIN - Of course I expect that.

Ms O'CONNOR - Do you think Mr Jaensch did on that occasion?

Mr GUTWEIN - That matter has been dealt with.