Allegations about the behaviour of senior Government Ministers had to be taken seriously by Premier Rann and properly investigated, Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today.
Mr Lucas said if the allegations made this week by Independent MLC Ann Bressington about the behaviour of Ministers Kevin Foley and Pat Conlon were true, they would be a serious breach of the Ministerial Code Conduct.
“Mr Rann’s response so far to the allegations has been weak and indicative of a leader too scared to take action against Mr Foley and Mr Conlon, who are key leaders of the factions keeping Mr Rann in power,” Mr Lucas said today.
“The Ministerial Code of Conduct makes it clear that Ministers are required to behave according to the ‘highest standards of personal conduct’ and to ensure ‘their conduct does not bring discredit upon the Government or the State’.”
The Ministerial Code of Conduct also requires:
• 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
“Ann Bressington obviously felt so concerned about the behaviour of these senior Ministers she took the rare step of raising the issue publicly and also writing directly to Mr Foley,” Mr Lucas said.
“It is clear from Ms Bressington’s public statements that she is not just complaining about MPs drinking habits, but has made serious allegations of behaviour in the workplace that would be obviously unacceptable in any section of the public service under existing guidelines and legislation.
“The arrogance of the Rann Government has again been demonstrated by the responses from the Premier and Mr Conlon to these serious allegations.
“Mr Conlon’s response was to attack Ms Bressington as being ‘precious’ whilst the Premier tried to divert the allegations by attacking journalists and newsrooms for supposedly exhibiting similar behaviour.
“These responses are outrageous and would be unacceptable if similar allegations were made in any government department reporting to these Ministers.
“Given Ms Bressington’s decision to make her concerns public, and given the Government’s completely unacceptable public response, the Premier must now take action to investigate the allegations properly and be seen publicly to have responded appropriately.
“Mr Rann should speak with Independent MLCs Ann Bressington, Nick Xenophon and Dennis Hood as well as Mr Foley and Mr Conlon.
“If Mr Rann establishes that the substance of Ms Bressington’s allegations is true then the Premier should have the courage to take action against Mr Foley and Mr Conlon in accordance with the Ministerial Code of Conduct. The Code outlines a series of penalties including public apology, reprimand or, in the most serious of cases, dismissal.
“Unless Mr Rann is prepared to investigate this allegation properly by speaking to the three Independent MLCs then it is clear his supposedly tough Ministerial Code of Conduct is not worth the paper on which it is written.”