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Half-baked Sarah Courtney investigation must be reopened

  • Departmental staff not interviewed but must be allowed to have input
  • Premier’s decision cannot possibly be taken seriously
  • Concerns remain about decisions Minister did not make as a result of conflict of interest

Tasmanians cannot have any faith or trust in the Hodgman Liberal Government while serious questions about the Sarah Courtney conflict of interest scandal remain unanswered.

Labor Transparency Committee Chair Jo Siejka said Premier Hodgman must take the opportunity to reopen the investigation into Ms Courtney’s confirmed breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct and her conflicts of interest and allow DPIPWE staff the opportunity to provide evidence.

“The revelation that no DPIPWE staff were interviewed as part of the investigations into Ms Courtney and department Secretary John Whittington should concern every Tasmanian who expects transparency – not secrecy – from the government,” Ms Siejka said.

“Staff wanted to speak to investigators but they were extremely concerned about their ability to provide frank advice because they felt to do so would risk their employment under the State Service Code of Conduct.

“They were so concerned that they approached their union to seek guarantees from the Premier but Premier Hodgman has failed to respond to those requests.

“DPIPWE staff must be allowed to have their say, particularly if they have information about any alleged conflict of interest on Ms Courtney’s behalf.

“The Premier’s conclusion that all decisions Ms Courtney made while she was Primary Industries Minister holds no weight while staff are not being spoken to.

“There are real concerns about decisions that were not made by Ms Courtney as a result of the conflict of interest and it remains unclear when her relationship with Dr Whittington began and therefore how far back the decision making process could have been corrupted.

“The Premier has to take these extremely serious concerns into account otherwise Tasmanians will continue to view him as a weak leader prepared to sweep important matters under the carpet.”

Jo Siejka MLC
Labor Transparency Committee Chair