The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:42): I rise to speak about the duplicity and deceitfulness of the Premier, the Rann government and its spin doctors. In particular, I want to talk about the arrogance and game-playing engaged in by the Premier, in particular, and his officers in relation to refusing to answer serious questions and issues raised in the parliament by members of either the opposition or other benches.
Back on 13 September 2005, I first raised a question about the Director of Public Prosecutions. I highlighted the fact that on 5 and 6 July Matthew Abraham and David Bevan referred to a negative story about the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to a supposed salary increase claim of some $100,000 or so. They were quoting from a letter received in the Attorney-General’s office on 14 June 2005 from the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to remuneration levels.
Subsequent to that, on 24 August of that year, again Matthew Abraham and David Bevan did another anti-Director of Public Prosecutions story in relation to an overseas trip to Copenhagen and various other places. That particular trip had been signed off by the head of the Attorney-General’s Department and the Justice Department, Mr Mark Johns, and it was clear that the ABC hosts had been provided with confidential detail in relation to that submission.
At the time I said that I had been informed by a very senior source with intimate knowledge of the highest levels of the Rann government that the Director of Public Prosecutions had written to the Premier or another minister and had complained about the actions of Ms Jillian Bottrall and other government spin doctors in terms of backgrounding journalists against the Director of Public Prosecutions. I asked whether or not a letter had been received about the nature of the concern and why the Premier had personally approved a campaign by his government-paid advisers to undermine the standing of the DPP and the Office of the DPP.
On 7 December 2005, The Advertiser journalist Greg Kelton reported that the opposition had called for the Premier to answer these questions (because he had refused to answer them) and he wrote:
The Premier said in a statement yesterday: “A reply to Mr Lucas’ question regarding the DPP is on its way.”
On 20 June 2007, I raised a serious issue in relation to the former ombudsman. Because of time, I will summarise my questions: was the Attorney-General or any other Rann government minister advised recently of concerns relating to the behaviour of the Ombudsman; if so, what action was taken in relation to any such concerns; and, in particular, were any inquiries initiated into any such concerns?
Earlier this year on 6 May, when I still had not received answers to questions asked in 2005 and 2007 on these two most serious issues, I recounted the detail of the questions and put them to the Leader of the Government to ask the Premier when he would answer the questions first raised in 2005 and 2007. This week, on 22 July, I received an answer from the Premier through the Leader of the Government, as follows:
“I have been advised of the following:
Response provided by the Hon. P. Holloway on 13 September 2005.
Response provided by the Hon. P. Holloway on 20 June 2007.”
In other words, the Premier was saying that he was not going to provide an answer to those particular questions. I make no criticism directly of the Hon. Mr Holloway here because he was not in a position to know whether a letter had been sent by the DPP to the Premier or another minister and it needed to be answered by the Premier or the Attorney-General, and the issue of the Ombudsman relates to the Attorney-General and/or the Premier as well.
That is just an indication of the game playing and arrogance of the government and its ministers. They think that they can just ignore serious questions and issues raised in this chamber about an undermining of the DPP by government officers or serious potential issues in relation to the behaviour of the former ombudsman which may have led to his resignation. The government and the Premier think that they can just ignore in an arrogant way genuine questions. If that is going to be the approach by the Premier, it may well be that members will have to place greater detail on some of these allegations in the parliament in the near future.