Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1497 ..
In order to lessen the possibility that conflicts with the Gaming Machine Act 2004 will arise in the future, the Commission recommends that the relevant authorities give urgent consideration to amending the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Canberra Labor Club to remove powers the exercise of which would or could give rise to conflict with the Act.
And that is the point. Who will have a part in this is, of course, the admin committee of the ACT branch of the Labor Party, who are named, along with the national executive, as the persons or the groups that tried to influence the decision. So it is quite clear that you should apply what was applied to Mr Seselja, which was a very poor case because it was applied prospectively. The law did not exist and indeed the law that was attempted to be passed, from my memory of the schedule, actually did not include the staff member in Mr Seselja’s office. But on that basis, a ruling was actually made by the Assistant Speaker, “Just turf them.” Indeed, Ms Porter was turfed as well at the same time.
What we are saying here is that the minister, who has a contract with a member of the board who is one of the groups that have been subject to this inquiry, will now look at implementing these recommendations. And if you do not see that as a conflict of interest then your notion of an open and accountable government just goes out the window. I will read it again:
The Commission found that there was considerable evidence that attempts were made to direct and influence the Club’s Board in relation to the sale process.
The clearest evidence of attempts to influence the Board came from directions that were issued by the National Executive and the ACT Branch of the ALP.
To ensure this does not happen again, the commission is saying, “Change that relationship and the articles of association.” We have at least one member of staff, if not two, who have contracts with their ministers and who will be part of that process. Indeed, one of those persons actually sits in the office of the minister who will oversee this process.
I am sorry; I just fail to see why you cannot see the conflict of interest. It is so abundantly clear. It has been the problem, from my time in this Assembly, that the Labor Party votes with interest, with conflicts of interest. And this conflict of interest is now clearly documented by the commission. We have got a minister, for instance, with a staffer in his office who is part of the body that tried to influence the club, who says he now will not go after 86 documents and has not made his mind up as to whether he will refer this matter to the tax office and to the other appropriate authority outlined in the report, the securities commission. So that is the conflict of interest.
You have actually got a recommendation from the commission: “It is time to end the possibility in the future. This conflict will occur again.” But we are talking about a minister who has a person in his office who will be part of the process of clearing up, from the minister’s point of view but who will be on one of the boards that are the subject of this inquiry. That is a conflict of interest. It is clear. It is unequivocal.