Fleming referred to Privileges Committee, Lambley says ‘no confidence’ in politically motivated committee

by | Aug 10, 2021 | News | 0 comments

Retired ICAC Ken Fleming has been referred to Parliament’s disciplinary committee by the Chief Minister for comments he made regarding a former employee at Estimates hearings in June, in an urgent motion that took precedence over all other business in Parliament this morning.

But independent MLA Robyn Lambley did not support the motion, telling Parliament she has no confidence in the government to appropriately investigate the matter and questioned why the government appeared to be protecting disgraced former speaker Kezia Purick, who has still not been referred to the Privileges Committee a year after the government said she would.

Mr Gunner said Mr Fleming needed to be referred to Privileges after conflicting evidence was given to the Estimates committee back in June regarding a complaint from the former employee about contracts being awarded to the partner of the OICAC’s director of investigations.

A lawyer representing the former staffer provided testimony to the committee that contradicted Mr Fleming’s version of events.

While the ICAC Inspector found no wrongdoing with the awarding of the contracts, Mr Gunner said the conflicting evidence was enough to investigate Mr Fleming’s comments made under parliamentary privilege.

“Unfortunately it’s become apparent that the Estimates committee had been provided two versions of events from opposing witnesses, and it needs to be investigated,” he said.

“And the truth of the matter, determined, so far as it is possible.”

Ms Lambley said she would not support the motion because the government was wasting time that should be spent on real issues and had run the Estimates committee process with no integrity and without following proper processes, creating the issue itself.

“Of all the things that we could be talking about this morning we’re talking about a situation which was, in part, created by the very government that seems to take objection to it,” she said.

Ms Lambley added that Estimates committee chair Joel Bowden did a poor job managing the committee and that both he and Mr Gunner allowed Mr Fleming to breach time limit rules for speaking.

“The person apparently identified by the ICAC commissioner would not be in this position, if the budget estimates committee was chaired and managed correctly,” she said.

“I’m not satisfied that any outcome of any inquiry by the Privileges Committee of this Assembly will come up with anything that’s fair and demonstrating integrity.

“I have no confidence at all in the parliamentary processes undertaken by committees in this Assembly. The lack of democracy, the lack of transparency and the lack of process is appalling.

“I have no foot in any camp at the moment, I’m just a player, in terms of wanting what’s best for the people of the Northern Territory and particularly my constituents in Alice Springs, and what we’re getting here is not in the best interests of Territorians. People expect more. They deserve more. They deserve a better process.

“I have grave concerns about the motivations of the government for making this referral.”

CLP Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro supported the motion to refer Mr Fleming to Privileges, but used her speech to call on the government to make their current review into the ICAC Act public.

The terms of reference for the review, currently being conducted by former Department of Justice chief executive Greg Shanahan, has not been made public.

Ms Finocchiaro said the review should not be conducted behind closed doors.

“Our ICAC Act is so important and doing a behind closed doors review, which is controlled by the government, does not instill confidence in the process,” she said, adding there could be a perception the ICAC was being turned into a “tool of the government”.

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