Marshall, Chapman under Ombudsman light as Governor requested

Updated | Prime Minister Steven Marshall and senior government officials are in the spotlight as part of a recently launched independent inquiry into the actions of conflicting Attorney General Vickie Chapman – as Parliament Speaker Dan Cregan today visited the Governor to inform her that the Assembly had lost faith. in the Deputy Prime Minister.

But Marshall insists he “absolutely didn’t” ask for Vickie Chapman’s resignation – and claims he won’t seek her removal.

State Mediator Wayne Lines today confirmed that he will investigate issues raised against Chapman in a parliamentary inquiry investigating her decision to veto a major port project on her native Kangaroo Island.

Lines counted Daily: “I have received a reference from the Committee in accordance with Finding 11 of its report.”

That finding prompted the Ombudsman to investigate “any matter relevant whether or not the Attorney General had a conflict of interest in determining the [port] application [and] any violation of the Ministerial Code of Conduct ”.

It also asks him to investigate “the role that every other public official has undertaken in relation to the decision of the Attorney General, including the role and responsibility of the Prime Minister, Chief Officers and other public officers, including Crown Law Officers”.

Lines said today that under the Mediator Act “I am required to investigate and report”.

Several Liberal insiders believe Chapman is bleeding support within the party chamber, and the issue will be brought to a head at – if not sooner – the next joint party chamber meeting before parliament resumes on November 30th.

But Marshall strongly denied widespread speculation that he had already expressed such a view to his MP, who kept her public silence today after yesterday’s loss of a historic vote of no confidence backed by Labor and four bankers – including two of her former Liberal colleagues.

Both of those men, Troy Bell and Sam Duluk, have publicly stated that Chapman should now resign under a Westminster convention relating to retaining the confidence of the lower house, where the government of the day should be expected to command a working-class majority.

“The Ombudsman is doing an investigation – we will let the Ombudsman make a decision,” Marshall said today, declaring the parliamentary committee tainted by politics.

“I don’t think that was clear and the Mediator is now looking at it,” he said.

But Marshall refused to guarantee Chapman’s position if Lines reached the same conclusions as the parliamentary committee.

“It’s a very hypothetical question – let’s just see what comes out of the survey and what recommendations are made … but I just don’t think that’s going to be the case,” he said.

Asked if he expected Lines to investigate his own role in the scandal, the prime minister said: “The Ombudsman can investigate everything the Ombudsman wants to investigate.”

“We certainly wouldn’t direct that, but he was asked by the committee to look into this matter and he will decide on the scope of that investigation.”

It comes as Chapman broke her silence today, telling media outside a town hall where she had dinner with staff – complete with Champagne – that she was “very happy to return to work and of course progress the agenda as Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister.”

“So thank you very much!” she added.

Chapman and staff at lunch at Peel St restaurant today. Photo: Twitter

She said she is “very pleased to meet my staff to celebrate a birthday and acknowledge the hard work done this week”.

She told an ABC news team that she has “every confidence” that she will keep her job, saying: “The prime minister’s position is very clear – I will continue to fulfill my role as attorney general and deputy prime minister.”

On the Ombudsman’s inquiry, she said: “These are all issues that should have been addressed months ago, but they were not because of this failure that we had in parliament with the committee.”

Asked if the matter should be stopped, she replied, “It’s over.”

The prime minister today denied that his repeated claims that Chapman retained his “100 percent” support suggested that the vote could be seen as a lack of confidence in his own role – or that of his government.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said.

“I just realize we continued to pass legislation yesterday … we just continue to keep South Australia safe and grow our economy.”

In a media conference apparently called to discuss arrangements for the looming loosening of SA’s border restrictions, Marshall said his “focus here today is on health,” telling reporters, “Your focus is on political jokes.”

“The Labor Party and some members of the transgender want to play political games [but] I don’t think the public cares about that unit, ”he said.

The Distrust vote followed the table of the committee report, which found Chapman, as Minister of Planning, had repeatedly misled parliament and violated the ministerial code of conduct.

The report found that Chapman had real and perceived conflicts of interest when she vetoed the $ 40 million timber port.

Cregan said of his audience with newborn Governor Frances Adamson: “I attended a Government House this morning in the direction of the House.”

“I gave a copy of the motion of no confidence to the Governor [but] I gave no advice. ”

Government House offered no comment when contacted, and indicated that no one would come.

Cregan arrives at Government House this morning to formally advise Frances Adamson on last night’s vote. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Marshall said it is “unfortunate” that the governor is now involved in the matter.

“But the reality is that the Governor is taking advice from the executive council and from me as Prime Minister – and I will not issue any advice to remove Vickie Chapman,” he insisted.

The Marshall government was shaken last year by a series of ministerial resignations amid an ICAC inquiry into parliamentary rights – which ultimately so far has only seen accusations leveled against one MP, exiled backbone Fraser Ellis, who abstained from the confidence motion yesterday.

But Marshall insisted that his benchmark for ministerial accountability has not changed since then.

“It’s a completely different set of circumstances,” he insisted.

“People make decisions for a whole range of reasons – some of them family, some of them personal and some of them because they need to because of actions … in this case none of those things are present – none of them.”

Bell said In Everyday last night he hoped a constitutional crisis could be avoided.

“It will put a very new Governor under a lot of pressure … there are mechanisms for that – but there are conventions as well,” he said, referring to the Westminster congress that a minister who loses the confidence of the lower house must resign.

However, he said, “it’s not up to me to decide who does what from here – the House has made a decision.”

Asked if Chapman should resign, he said: “This is a matter for the Deputy Prime Minister – and it is also a matter for the Prime Minister … but the House voted No. [and] the convention is that she would retire, so following that convention – yes. ”

Cregan said of the governor’s involvement: “If it were the case that the deputy prime minister had resigned, it follows that it would not have been necessary.”

Moderate faction colleagues, however, defended the deputy prime minister last night, with Vincent Tarzia stating: “I think Vickie Chapman is doing a great job and I’m looking forward to her continuing her good work in the role.”

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