Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today the hapless Attorney-General Michael Atkinson would be pursued through the parliamentary process for serious breaches of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.
Whilst some of the stunning allegations against Mr Atkinson made by Labor insider Gary Lockwood have already been referred to the South Australia Police Anti-Corruption Branch, the issue of breaches of the Ministerial Code of Conduct is equally serious and can only be resolved through the parliamentary process.
If Mr Lockwood’s evidence to the Legislative Council Select Committee last week is accurate then it would seem clear the following provisions of the Code have been breached:
• (Ministers) must act honestly and diligently and with propriety in the performance of their public functions and duties and ensure that their conduct does not bring discredit upon the Government or the State.
• Ministers must ensure that their personal conduct is consistent with the dignity reputation and integrity of Parliament.
• In the discharge of his or her public duties, a Minister shall not dishonestly or wantonly and recklessly attack the reputation of any other person.
Based on Mr Lockwood’s evidence, Mr Atkinson pressured two Labor MPs to sack Mr Lockwood after he had given a statement to police in the Atkinson/Ashbourne affair. Then after the Select Committee hearing last week Mr Atkinson attacked the reputation of Mr Lockwood, who is a 67-year-old pensioner, in a ‘wanton and reckless’ way.
Even some Labor MPs last week were shaking their heads and distancing themselves from Mr Atkinson’s ‘over the top’ personal abuse of Mr Lockwood.
Whilst only the police can resolve the difficult issue of whether criminal offences have been committed it is up to the parliamentary process and ultimately the Premier to resolve the issue of breaches of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.
The only way some of these issues can be resolved is if Labor MPs Fran Bedford and Robyn Geraghty give sworn testimony in some appropriate forum.
It is becoming increasingly ominous for Mr Atkinson that Fran Bedford and Robyn Geraghty have not already issued sworn statements supporting Mr Atkinson’s version of events.
The beleaguered Mr Atkinson has become a major embarrassment to the Premier and the Rann Government and some Labor MPs are openly expressing dismay at his increasingly erratic performance as he lurches from crisis to crisis.