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Seeking of Leave – Referral to Committee of Privileges and Conduct

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Tags: Parliament, Integrity

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, we will support the seeking of leave. This is the motion that Ms White has moved to refer the Premier to the Committee of Privileges and Conduct on the basis of his seeming behaviour in relation to a breach of a committee of the House and members of the committee.

I am not a member of that committee but members of the committee were interjecting. It was obvious from the comments made in this Chamber from members who were at what seemed to be the most recent committee meeting that the Premier had breached the processes of that committee. It was also obvious that the Premier read a letter into the House from the commissioner, Sarah Bolt, which appeared to have identical language to a letter that was, I understand, tabled at the most recent committee meeting. If that was true, then that would have been a clear breach of the committee's processes, so this is a matter that must go to the Privileges committee.

If the Premier has nothing to hide, why would he have a problem with fronting the Privileges committee? He has taken up nearly the whole hour of question time placing this matter on the agenda because he considers it to be so important so why would he not be comfortable with fronting the Privileges committee and saying, 'There is nothing to see here'. If he has not breached the processes of a committee of the House, if he has not brought our process into dishonour, if he has not broken or abused the trust of the committee and if he has nothing to hide, then he will be more than happy to front the Privileges committee and have a conversation about it.

Instead, what we know is happening here is this is a politicisation of the processes of the workplace culture review. The Motion for Respect report was a deeply important report and I want to speak for the public servants who will likely, if they are not watching, hear the comments of what has happened today. I want to speak for those people who participated in the workplace culture review, who gave their stories and expected some serious action to be taken that will really change the culture of this place. I want to speak for the person who made comments, such as -

Mr Jaensch interjecting.

Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Speaker, I hear constant interjections and conversations. The Leader of the Greens was thrown out of this place for doing far less than the wittering that is constantly happening from minister Jaensch, who is obviously trying to run cover for the Premier, who has brought shame to himself and their Government. I ask you to keep order in the House from the Government's side as well. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I want to speak for the person who made the comment to the workplace culture review that, 'My manager told me I was under their ultimate control', and for the person who said:

There was classist, sexist, racist and foul language overheard on a number of occasions. I felt like it was going back in time.

I want to speak for the person who contributed that they were told, 'That's why young women shouldn't have children', and for the other person who said:

They would scream at me, smash files on my desk and ridicule me in front of others.

And for the other person who said:

You were warned you mustn't act on anything in case it has political consequences.

There were so many more.

This is the Premier's first big priority and he used it in a political fashion.

In relation to the matter of Ms Gale, the head of the State Service, she wrote to me last night and I saw what appeared to be a copy of that letter passed by the Premier's chief of staff to him while I was speaking. It looked like the same letter. Maybe I am wrong but it looked exactly like that letter. Wouldn't that be a political statement if that were true? That is a carbon-copy example of the politics of this, because if she had just written to me as a person who wanted an apology - and I have not even had a chance to respond - that would be the process. That would be the normal process that has always been enacted in Westminster systems. If a person feels aggrieved, they can go to the Privileges committee as a citizen's right of reply or they can ask the member to apologise. I have not had a chance to reply but I will reply to Ms Gale personally about the matter she has raised.

The pincer movement we are seeing here today is pretty clear, and that is why it is important to look at the details of what the Premier has done. He appears to have misused the office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner in some fashion. We need to understand what has really happened here. I was not on the committee but what has happened with the letter when there appears to have been more than one copy, some members would say?

We are concerned that the action he has taken was not to have a conversation with the Leader of the Greens and/or the Leader of the Opposition about the potential psychological harm he says is so serious, but he did not even pick up the phone and talk to the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Greens and the other members of the committee. He did not raise it with the committee, perhaps, but we do not know. We would like to understand what happened with the committee. Was this a matter that went to the committee? It is certainly the case that I understand that the Leader of Opposition and I know that the Leader of the Greens has not had a conversation with the Premier on this issue in person. It goes to show that what he is actually on about is trying to distract from the stadium. We support this going to Privileges so we can understand what has really happened.