The Opposition CLP nominated disgraced former speaker Kezia Purick to resume the role of Speaker in Parliament today, two years to the day after she was forced to resign for being found to have engaged in corrupt conduct by the ICAC while in the role between 2018 and 2020.
In a bizarre scene, Deputy Opposition Leader Gerard Maley nominated Ms Purick for the job after Labor nominated backbencher Mark Monaghan to replace outgoing speaker Ngaree Ah Kit, who was promoted to Cabinet last month.
Mr Monaghan won the vote 15-9 and is now officially the Speaker.
However, after the CLP failed to get the numbers to support their attempt to reinstall a politician who was found by the anti-corruption body to have engaged in corrupt conduct and lied about it, they put her up against Labor backbencher Dheran Young as the Deputy Speaker.
The party also lost that vote.
Asked why the party would nominate a politician who was found to have engaged in corrupt conduct while in the role, Mr Maley said the CLP had nominated her “because of her extensive knowledge and experience in Parliament”.
As the independent Member for Goyder, Ms Purick has spent most of the last two years outside the Speaker’s chambers railing against the Office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption. She had claimed on the day she resigned as Speaker that she had not been afforded procedural fairness – a claim that has not been backed up with evidence – and that was repeatedly rejected by former ICAC Ken Fleming. The report into her conduct remains on the ICAC’s website.
It found Ms Purick acted corruptly by using the resources of her office as speaker to interfere in the establishment of a new political party and that she later lied about it to the ICAC.
Ms Purick also came under fire for hefty liquor expenses she charged taxpayers while in the speaker role as revealed in an NT Independent investigation, including tens of thousands of dollars on bottle shop runs, and $100,000 for special dinner parties for herself and preferred social groups, over a span of three years.
Ms Purick told the NT News last July that she had reached an out-of-court settlement with the ICAC in relation to the report into her, but that has never been confirmed by anyone other than her and terms of any settlement have not been disclosed. She had taken legal action to prevent Mr Fleming from referring her to the DPP for charges and claimed that some of the information used in the investigation was protected under parliamentary privilege.
In early 2020, while knowingly under investigation by the ICAC, Ms Purick attempted to establish and sit on a parliamentary committee that would have oversight of the anti-corruption body.
Ms Purick was narrowly re-elected to her seat of Goyder at the August 2020 NT general election despite suffering a massive 23.9 per cent swing against her by voters.