Confidence threatens as Mediator prepares to investigate Chapman

A parliamentary inquiry is ready to report that Attorney General Vickie Chapman had a conflict of interest, cheated parliament and violated the ministerial code of conduct in relation to her decision to veto a $ 40 million timber port on her native Kangaroo Island, as the state Ombudsman. said today that he was waiting for the matter to be forwarded to his office.

The committee members who were investigating the deputy prime minister’s behavior met this morning to discuss a draft final report, choosing to postpone a final vote or accept the document until tomorrow morning.

If accepted, the report is expected to agree with the counsel of the investigation assistant, Dr Rachael Gray QC, that Chapman had both perceived and factual conflicts and should have recused himself from being the arbiter of the fate of the major project.

It is widely anticipated that three of the five members of the committee – Labor MPs Andrea Michaels and Tom Koutsantonis, and former Liberal independent Sam Duluk – will vote to adopt the final report, with Liberal Matt Cowdrey likely to vote against, while his colleague Peter Treloar was absent this week for personal reasons.

The threatening report of the investigation – which was called “kangaroo court” and “witch-hunting” by Liberal members, including Chapman and Prime Minister Steven Marshall – today prompted the opposition to give notice of a motion of no confidence to the confused Prosecutor. -Generally – will be debated instead of Question Time tomorrow.

Labor will also move for speaker Dan Cregan to write to newborn Governor Frances Adamson seeking Chapman’s removal from the ministry – a move Prime Minister Steven Marshall has repeatedly ruled out.

It is understood the committee is considering a range of possible further censorship, including a suspension of the deputy prime minister from attending parliament for 11 sessions – which would mean the government does not have an effective working majority and could control the House only at the whim of any three. the la. five crossbenches on the floor of parliament.

Matters raised in the inquiry will also likely be recommended to be referred for further inquiry to Ombudsman Wayne Lines, who today told a separate parliamentary committee that he declined an invitation to inform the inquiry, in part because he expected the matter “may in some form or another come to me office ”.

“I was invited to attend the committee and present some background information on the significance of conflicts of interest,” Lines told parliament this morning.

“I refused to attend because I didn’t think it was appropriate in my role to give such legal advice to the committee – realizing that the committee had hired its own legal counsel – and considering that there was potential that the kind of matter the committee thought may come to my office in one form or another. ”

Asked if the issues handled had already been referenced to his office separately by the Office of Public Integrity, Lines replied, “I really can’t comment on that.”

The prospect of Lines investigating Chapman’s actions as Minister of Planning would raise further problems, as he told the commission today that he was locked in conflict with her section on additional funding, after many of the functions previously administered by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption was recently handed over. to his office in a shocking legislative shake-up.

Lines said the Attorney General’s Department chose to assess how the changes affected his burdens before allocating extra funding for additional staff.

“I was disappointed with the Department’s response, but understand that they want a ‘wait and see’ approach,” he said, adding, “That will be very difficult to maintain.”

Asked if Chapman should recuse himself from decisions about his funding because of the prospect of his office investigating her behavior, Lines said, “I think. [that] would be preventive … we had no reference. “

That prompted Koutsantonis, a member of both committees, to respond, “Give it a go …” and gesture to the clock.

The report of the investigation into Chapman’s port decision is also expected to make recommendations on the legislative regime, which saw the minister as the sole arbiter of a decision affecting a billion-dollar trade on the island – and which prompted proponent Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers later. rebadge and leave the region.

The relevant section of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act, which was introduced in 2016 under the previous Labor government, is likely to be recommended for reference to the Standing Committee on Environment, Resources and Development for review, after Gray found the “undesirability” “. of having a single decision maker in respect of major developments ”, instead arguing such matters should be the area of ​​cabinet or the State Planning Assessment Panel.

Frances Nelson QC made a final submission in the minister’s defense to the commission, blasting the “incomplete and inadequate” evidence and “mandatory denial of procedural justice” during its deliberations.

“None of the evidence before the committee is in any way sufficient to support Dr. Gray’s‘ findings ’,” Nelson argued.

Local News Matters

Media diversity is threatened in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to lead it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to help our journalists discover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to discover the facts.

Donate today

Powered by

Leave a Comment