Parliamentary Debate - Member Conduct

Wednesday, 8th August 2018

Debate resumed.

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) (15:58:03) — I move:

That paragraph (7) be omitted.

In joining the debate on the motion from the government and particularly on the amendment that I have just moved, I will start by reading a Hamilton Spectator post from 5.36 last night:

In response to media reports regarding an internal email at the Hamilton Spectator, we would like to make the following statement:

The content of the internal email was inaccurate. The claims in the email misrepresented communication between the Hamilton Spectator and Emma Kealy for Lowan’s office. Ms Kealy and her office have never, at any time requested to have invoices changed, altered or amended.

The Hamilton Spectator values its integrity and would never entertain the idea of changing, altering or amending invoices.

The Hamilton Spectator apologises unreservedly for this mistake.

During the debate on the motion that is before the house, which was moved by the Deputy Premier, the Deputy Premier has been asked on a number of occasions to apologise for what he said about the member for Lowan. I think he should actually vote for this amendment to expunge paragraph (7) from the motion if he has any integrity, if he has any moral standing as a person let alone as the Deputy Premier of this state. The motion that is before the house is scurrilous, it is a distraction and it is a tactic by the government to distract from their guilt and their involvement in the red shirts rorts campaign.

The question, particularly for the Deputy Premier who moved this motion — and it is in his name, so he stands by it — is how low will the Deputy Premier go to cover up for all of the other 21 MPs who were part of the red shirts rorts? How low will the Deputy Premier go to do that? How low will the Deputy Premier actually go to cover it up, and particularly to protect the six ministers who are maintaining their ministerial positions even though they are part of a police investigation by the fraud and extortion squad? I think those on the other side of the house, and particularly the six ministers who are under investigation, have absolutely no moral compass. They are under investigation by the fraud and extortion squad of the police. If they had a moral compass, they would actually step aside.

There are Westminster conventions covering these particular circumstances. If a minister of the Crown is under investigation by the police, let alone by the police fraud and extortion squad, they should step aside and wait for that investigation to be concluded to see whether they are going to be charged with offences or taken to court and having to defend those particular charges.

The motion we have before the house is just a distraction by a desperate government that is trying to cover up for people who have done things wrong. The red shirts affair, as has been explained in the Ombudsman’s report and as has been reported extensively, is about the fact that some MPs believed that they could use the public purse as an ATM machine to pay for staff to run election campaigns not in their office but in someone else’s office. Again the allegations that are made — and this is confirmed in the Ombudsman’s report — are that they actually signed blank employment forms, signed blank hour sheet forms for staff that they never had in their office —

An honourable member — Never saw them.

Mr WALSH — And, as the interjector said, they actually never saw them. In the Minister for Sport’s case, the staffers were working in the Minister for Police’s office, supporting her in her campaign. To think that we have got six government ministers who will not stand aside when they are under investigation — it gets worse — and that two of those six ministers are actually the top law officers of this state! We have got the Attorney‑General and we have got the police minister who are both involved in this particular case. We have got the Attorney‑General, who actually spent somewhere around a million dollars of taxpayers funds actually taking the Ombudsman, an officer of the Parliament, to court to try and stop her investigating this issue.

Firstly it is an insult to Victorians that their taxpayers money would be used to fight the Ombudsman to stop an investigation into rorts. What makes it even worse is that the Attorney‑General, who instigated that legal action and who used taxpayers funds to pay for that legal action, is actually now one of those six ministers that is under investigation. So we have got the top law officer, being the Attorney‑General, who says, ‘I’m not going to stand aside, I don’t believe I should stand aside’, but who has spent money trying to prevent the Ombudsman from looking at this case now under investigation. The Director of Public Prosecutions, who will ultimately get the report from the police and will determine what charges may or may not be laid, also sits under the jurisdiction of the Attorney‑General. It is just a disgrace that we have got six ministers, particularly the Attorney‑General and the police minister, who actually will not stand aside over what they have done wrong. This motion before the house — the government will rant and rave, debate, say things and do anything just to distract from their own rorting of the system.

What I think is even worse, which is why I have moved the amendment in my name to take out paragraph 7 of this motion, is that they have taken a concocted email to run a campaign against the member for Lowan and bring her reputation into disrepute by trying to put their values on the member for Lowan, who does have a high moral standing in her community, who actually does do the right thing and who has done the right thing in any of her dealings with the Hamilton Spectator. This concocted email, as I would understand it to be in this case, actually came to light via a member for Western Victoria Region in the upper house, the Honourable Gayle Tierney. This actually has her fingerprints all over it insofar as how this email came to light and how it has been concocted to get to the situation we have got to. That particular member in the upper house is another one of the ministers that is actually under investigation for rorting. This is actually a concocted story by the Deputy Premier to try and distract —

An honourable member — A desperate man.

Mr WALSH — An absolutely desperate man — to try and distract from the failings of members on his side of the house. I just think this motion is a farce. When we have got the people of Victoria struggling to pay their utility bills, when we have got crime out of control in this state and when we have got a government that is at war with the 60 000 Country Fire Authority volunteers in this state, we are in a crisis around a whole range of issues. We as a house are spending our time debating a concocted motion that is there as a smokescreen for a government that has no integrity — absolutely no integrity — and has no moral compass when it comes to what is the right thing to do here in Victoria, because if they did have a moral compass and they did actually believe in doing the right thing, the six ministers would actually stand aside while the police investigation is carried out. Most importantly, the two top law officers of this state — the Attorney‑General and the police minister — would stand aside and allow the police to do their job because I believe they are compromised. They cannot carry out their role as chief law officers of this state while they are under police investigation. I think this motion is just a sham.


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