Unprecedented: Deputy Prime Minister Vickie Chapman loses a no-confidence motion

Attorney General Vickie Chapman has become the first lower-house prime minister in South Australia’s history to lose a vote of no confidence, but the deputy prime minister firmly refuses to step down – a move that threatens to provoke an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

A motion of no confidence was tabled with 23 votes in favor on the floor of the House just before 3:30 p.m. today, against 22 against.

Former Liberal transvestites Sam Duluk and Troy Bell have joined independents Geoff Brock and Frances Bedford to support Labor’s push to approve the mandate, with Liberal exile Fraser Ellis abstaining from the vote.

It follows weeks of hearings on Chapman’s treatment of a decision to veto a major port project on her native Kangaroo Island, with a long-awaited report of a parliamentary inquiry presented this morning.

It found Chapman, as Plan Minister, had a conflict of interest, cheated parliament and violated the ministerial code of conduct in connection with her decision to block the $ 40 million project – a move that prompted port proponent Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers to rebadge and abandon the. island.

The role of the new state governor Frances Adamson will now come under the spotlight, with the opposition seeking to call on her to step in and remove Chapman from office – and Prime Minister Steven Marshall insisting he has no intention of firing his deputy or firing her. .

The motion stated that the Assembly “no longer has confidence in the Member for Bragg to continue his role as deputy prime minister, attorney general, minister of planning and local government, and as a member of the executive council, to intentionally and intentionally deceive the Assembly and violate the Ministerial Code of Conduct “.

It further “requests the Speaker of the House of Assembly to present to Her Excellency, the Governor a copy of this motion, if adopted, expressing the will of this House that the Member for Bragg no longer serve as Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General , Minister for Planning and Local Government and as a Member of the Executive Council ”.

However, the Government successfully moved to have a paragraph requiring the Prime Minister “immediately advise Her Excellency, the Governor, to remove the Member for Bragg’s commission to serve as Minister of the Crown” removed from the motion.

Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas called the successful passage of the motion “unprecedented”, saying he had asked the parliamentary inquiry library to find another case from the Assembly expressing no confidence in a minister, and being told that none existed.

Parliament divided by the historic vote. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Ellis – the only bench on the floor of parliament not to support the move – said: “I explained at the outset that I don’t want any part of it and that remains true.”

“We could discuss regional health or country roads, both important issues – instead we spend time on that,” he said.

“It’s a real shame.”

However, his abstention – rather than supporting Chapman – meant that the issue was resolved without former-liberal-turned-independent speaker Dan Cregan having to give a considerable vote, which parliamentary insiders expected, would have sealed Chapman’s fate anyway.

Chapman herself maintained a bar of normalcy in the lead-up to the debate, moving and speaking on a range of legislative motions and putting on the table several documents and reports related to her various portfolios as parliament resumed reconsidering her fate.

Working leader Stephen Mullighan told parliament that Chapman had already expressed doubts about the project before she was in government and long before she was given responsibility for its fate.

“One wonders if she insisted on getting the Planning portfolio [in 2020], knowing that this matter remained unresolved, ”he told parliament.

“I shouldn’t have achieved this – the simple truth is that the Member for Bragg should now resign as Minister of the Crown … not only has the member deceived parliament and done so several times, she has done so in such a way that none of us from now on may have some confidence in her behavior.

“She is now tainted – she now has a proven reputation for misleading this House [and] worse, in her performance as minister she did not declare her conflicts of interest. “

Mullighan said the investigation’s finding that “it was not only a perceived but a real conflict … of course means she had clearly violated the ministerial code of conduct”.

“This does not meet the standards of this parliament – she has to resign as a minister,” he argued.

“Parliamentary convention and precedent dictate that she must resign.”

He cited former Liberal heavyweights John Olsen and Joan Hall, who stood aside amid a conflict of interest scandals, and former Deputy Prime Minister Graham Ingerson who fell on his sword after parliament determined the House had been misled.

“This is the standard this parliament expects from ministers,” Mullighan said, noting that several current government colleagues have stood aside amid questions about their use of parliamentary rights.

“That’s the standard Bragg’s member doesn’t meet.”

Prime Minister Steven Marshall countered, calling Labor’s argument a “bluff and fanfare”, and arguing that they had moved the confidence motion before the inquiry report was even tabled suggested it was a political witch hunt.

He again argued that former Labor Minister Ian Hunter had not resigned after losing confidence motions in the Upper House, saying: “I will not be lectured on the integrity of the opponents.”

He reiterated that his deputy “enjoys my 100 percent confidence”, praising her “ability, ability. [and] intelligence ”.

The motion was discussed after a long-awaited report of a parliamentary inquiry was presented this morning, finding that the Attorney General has a conflict of interest, cheated parliament and violated the ministerial code of conduct in connection with her decision to veto $ 40 million timber. a port on her native Kangaroo Island, where she owns land.

The report, which was backed by three of the five members of the committee – Labor MPs Andrea Michaels and Tom Koutsantonis, and ex-Liberal independent Sam Duluk – with Liberals Matt Cowdrey and Peter Treloar voting against the recommendations.

Those two MPs issued their own dissenting statement, challenging “the completeness of the Special Committee Report on the Conduct of the Attorney General.”

“In our view, the Attorney General has complied with the Ministerial Code of Conduct to determine that she has not had a conflict in this matter. [and] therefore … did not violate the Code by treating this application as she did, ”they said.

“Nor did she deceive Parliament on the matter …

“Our view is that the Attorney kept an open mind on the matter throughout the time she was responsible for making the final decision.”

Marshall highlighted this disagreement report, saying: “This was not a unanimous decision of the special committee.”

He said the matter has now been referred to the Ombudsman for investigation, saying Wayne Lines is “the right person to consider this” and urging parliament to wait for that inquiry.

“There’s no way I’m going to go to Government House to ask [Chapman’s] a commission to be removed, ”he insisted.

“This isn’t going to happen – I’m not going to do that … I’m not going to be told this is an acceptable performance.”

Malinauskas said parliament is on the “cliff”, saying: “How Question Time can serve its legitimate function within parliamentary democracy if the opposition and transgender people can ask questions to the Government and they deliberately mislead the House, without consequence.”

“We are all human, we all have our shortcomings [but] it turned out that the deputy prime minister was suffering from the greatest dose of pride we had ever seen … making her unable to see the forest for the trees, literally and metaphorically. “

Labor committee member Tom Koutsantonis told parliament that a “secret” report from consultants had been commissioned by the then Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, without KIPT’s knowledge, to find an alternative location for the port.

He argued that “every single piece of advice” to Chapman recommended that the port should proceed if it met key criteria.

“The reason the minister could not delegate this to anyone else is because no independent council said it could not be approved – not one,” he said.

“On what basis could any other minister with an impartial mind turn to the recommendation and say‘ despite all the recommendations to approve this port, I will say no ’?

“She was prejudiced – she’s in conflict … and to cover up that conflict, she tricked us.

“She has to go.”

But Education Minister John Gardner said Koutsantonis had a “caught bias” against Chapman, calling it “personal, bad and deeply problematic” and the motion “frivolous, ridiculous, politically motivated and bad”.

Gardner dismissed the opinion of the QC advising the inquiry, Dr Rachael Gray, saying she “was not chosen by the people of SA to serve in this parliament”.

“In the Westminster tradition we have a rather different way of doing our business,” he said, arguing that the committee was a “US-style inquiry” designed “to bring down the deputy prime minister for the Labor Party’s political gain”.

Gardner claimed Chapman did not cheat parliament “either accidentally or knowingly”, saying her property at Gum Valley is adjacent to a “privately owned forest that will always be logged once” – and did not realize it was later contracted to. KIPT.

He also dismissed her historic friendship with Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly – a former Liberal colleague of Chapman’s and a well-known opponent of the port plan – saying: “There are very few people on KI whom the Deputy Prime Minister does not know.”

While parliament was preparing to debate the motion, Pengilly suggested on social media that Labor would pay a political price in its ultra-marginal Mawson electorate for the gambit.

“Intense anger is being directed against SA Labor in Kingscote now,” he tweeted.

“People were disgusted by the cowardly attack [Vickie Chapman]. ”

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