RENEWAL SA

 I refer to the conclusion in the Adelaide Magistrates Court last Friday of the hearing of charges laid following an ICAC investigation into the conduct of two former executives of Renewal SA.

I have waited for the member for West Torrens to issue a public apology for his reckless conduct immediately after these charges became public in September 2018, which smeared Renewal SA and all its employees, and immediately declared the guilt of the two former executives involved. The court proceedings, which followed the charges, revealed that the charges were limited to their personal conduct. They did not relate to any wider issues associated with the work of Renewal SA and the many projects it undertakes to support industrial and commercial development. It is important that all those in government and the private sector—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order, the leader!

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —who have dealings with Renewal SA have confidence in its integrity.

Mr PICTON: Point of order.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Premier will resume her seat for a moment. The member for Kaurna on a point of order.

Mr PICTON: Standing order 127: you cannot 'impute improper motives to any other Member or make personal reflections on any other Member'. The Attorney-General has been doing that since the moment she stood on her feet.

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Premier, in making a contribution to the grievance debate, has addressed subject matter that has been before the house already this week. It has been the subject of a number of questions. I am listening carefully to the Deputy Premier. However, I do not uphold the point of order. The Deputy Premier has the call.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Thank you. Yet this is what the member set out to smash in his reckless pursuit of the agency when it revealed that two executives of Renewal SA were taking leave. For reasons which the member fully understood, the government was unable to publicly reveal the reasons for this. It would have been unlawful—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —under legislation enacted by the former government for the government to have done so. However, this did not deter the member from making a series of scandalous inferences by way of questions and allegations protected by parliamentary privilege.

Mr PICTON: Point of order.

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Premier will resume her seat. The member for Kaurna rises on a point of order.

Mr PICTON: Thank you, sir. Since you made your last ruling, the member has used words such as 'reckless pursuit' and 'scandalous inferences' which I believe again go against standing order 127 regarding not imputing improper motives to any member nor making personal reflections on other members. It is hard to interpret it any other way.

The SPEAKER: I uphold the point of order to this extent: it is unhelpful and verges on attracting standing order 127 transgressions to characterise the nature or the motivation of a member in that way. I direct that the Deputy Premier not do so in the remainder of the Deputy Premier's contribution. The Deputy Premier has the call.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: The member deliberately encouraged public speculation that the issues involved went to the heart of the integrity at Renewal SA, which was calculated to undermine the confidence investors and others had in the agency. Why else would the member have raised the following in estimates in September 2018: 'Has the minister's office been searched and documents seized? Has the minister been interviewed by a law enforcement officer? Has the minister's home been the subject of a search warrant? Have law enforcement officers entered a government building and seized documents, computers, files and mobile phones?'

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: 'Had the sudden departure of Mr John Hanlon triggered an independent review of any of the projects in which Mr Hanlon was involved?' The member alleged that there was a 'stench of corruption' that 'has already festered in a government that is less than a year old'. The main focus of the ICAC investigation was an overseas trip approved in 2017 by the member for Lee—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —while he was the minister responsible. The member for Lee said in court last Friday—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens will cease interjecting.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —that he had been 'a conscientious, diligent and responsible person' under oath. In contrast, following the expiration of Mr Hanlon's contract in 2019 and in further abuse of parliamentary privilege, the member for West Torrens stated that Mr Hanlon's contract—

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Point of order.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Premier will resume her seat.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order, members on my left!

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Member for Lee!

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Mawson will leave for 10 minutes in accordance with standing order 137A.

The honourable member for Mawson having withdrawn from the chamber:

The SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens rises on a point of order.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Sir, I found the term 'abuse of parliamentary privilege' offensive and I ask that the Attorney-General withdraw and apologise immediately.

The SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens rises on what I interpret to be a point of order in accordance with standing order 125. I remind members it is a subjective test to the extent that the characterisation of the remarks is a matter that the member for West Torrens considers to be offensive. I accordingly ask the Deputy Premier to withdraw those words.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: I withdraw those words. And I go on to say the member for West Torrens—

The Hon. S.C. Mullighan interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Premier will resume her seat. The member for Lee rises on a point of order.

The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN: Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General has today told the parliament that she is not at liberty—

The Hon. D.C. van Holst Pellekaan: What's your point of order?

The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN: I will get to it, Dan, if you listen.

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN: I will get to it.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Lee rises on a point of order.

The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN: Thank you, sir. The Attorney-General has already told this place that she is unable to comment about this matter because the DPP is still considering whether it may be appealed. Now she is in this place, during a grievance debate, quoting evidence—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN: —from a court case which is related to it. I ask, Mr Speaker, that you use your discretion to draw the Attorney's time to a close and move on to the next grievance. This is appalling.

The SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order.

The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN: Well, there should be. It should be upheld.

The SPEAKER: The member for Lee will resume his seat. There is no point of order. The Deputy Premier has the call.

The Hon. S.C. Mullighan: It's sub judice or it's not. Which is it?

The SPEAKER: The member for Lee will leave for 10 minutes in accordance with standing order 137A.

The honourable member for Lee having withdrawn from the chamber:

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: The member for West Torrens stated that Mr Hanlon's contract should have been cancelled 11 months earlier, but the member is notorious for his vilification of public servants and their work, as revealed by ICAC's Gillman inquiry.

Mr Picton: Point of order.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Premier will resume her seat. The member for Kaurna rises on a point of order.

Mr PICTON: Sir, the last sentence could not be interpreted in any other way than a complete breach of standing order 127(2) and (3).

The SPEAKER: As has been made clear on a number of occasions recently, it is a matter for the member who takes offence to–

The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: Anybody can take offence, sir.

The SPEAKER: Well, the point of order that was addressed on the last occasion in relation to standing order 125—

Mr PICTON: Yes; I am saying 127(2) and (3), sir, which do not require the member to raise offence.

The SPEAKER: So far as standing order 127(3) is concerned, it is a question as to a member to whom such remarks may be directed. I uphold the point of order insofar as standing order 127(2) is concerned. The Deputy Premier will, in addressing the remainder of the time, ensure that she has in mind making remarks in accord with standing order 127. I do not think I can put it any more directly than that. The Deputy Premier has the call.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: I will go to the direct quotes. As revealed by ICAC's Gillman inquiry, witnesses described him as 'a very impatient man' who 'becomes overtly frustrated and swears' and was 'non-receptive to advice he did not like' and had 'little or no regard' for Renewal SA. The ICAC commissioner reflected on the member's accountability, reporting that he 'was inclined not to answer direct questions directly'. Premier Weatherill admitted the member for West Torrens' behaviour had fallen below the standards expected of a minister, required him to make a public apology and to take steps to ensure proper standards are upheld in the future.

It is now clear that experience counted for nothing. He now owes Renewal SA and the staff another apology for the way in which he smeared them under the protection of this parliament. If the member refuses to act, it is up to the Leader of the Opposition to require him to do so. His behaviour has been indecent and irresponsible. Anything less than the leader doing this would be a further demonstration of the Labor Party's contempt of people in the public sector.

The Hon. A. Koutsantonis interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Premier will resume her seat. The member from West Torrens rises on a point of order.

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Yes, sir. I would ask that, under standing order 125, the word 'indecent' be withdrawn and the member apologise.

The SPEAKER: The point of order is raised pursuant to standing order 125. In those circumstances, I request the Deputy Premier withdraw the word to which the member for West Torrens has taken offence.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: I withdraw 'indecent' and repeat that he stop his irresponsible conduct.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: That is all that is left. Anything less would be a further demonstration of the Labor Party's contempt for the people in our public sector.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Playford will leave for 10 minutes in accordance with standing order 137A.

The honourable member for Playford having withdrawn from the chamber: