Days after the defection of Liberal MP Dan Cregan, South Australia’s government has lost a number of votes in Parliament, including one to stop an investigation into the conduct of the Deputy Premier.
- Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman rejected plans for a Kangaroo Island timber port in August
- Liberal MP Dan Cregan became an independent last week
- He has joined other independents in voting for an inquiry into Ms Chapman’s handling of the port’s rejection
The government lost three votes in the House of Assembly in the first two hours of sitting.
Mr Cregan, along with two other former Liberals, voted with Labor to set up a select committee to investigate Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman.
The opposition says the committee will look into the conduct of Ms Chapman, who refused an application by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers to build a deep-water port facility at Smith Bay earlier this year.
Labor MP Tom Koutsantonis told Parliament the committee would “investigate the conduct of the Attorney-General and Deputy Premier in her assessment of this application”.
“Whether, in fact, there is a deep conflict within her decision-making processes and whether, indeed, the Parliament has been misled,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
The establishment of the committee was successful after three former Liberals chose to vote with Labor on the matter – Dan Cregan, Sam Duluk and Troy Bell.
The same independents also supported a move to allow the committee to begin work immediately, including during sitting time today.
Crossbencher Fraser Ellis, who suspended his Liberal Party membership after being charged with deception, abstained from voting.
Chapman says matter has been dealt with
Ms Chapman, who owns land on Kangaroo Island, has previously rejected suggestions of a conflict of interest.
“This issue has already been dealt with by the Speaker and dismissed,” she said in a statement following the committee’s establishment.
“It is open to the Parliament to establish a select committee, as the state government did into the Labor Party’s despicable publication of a racist poster at the 2014 election, which no-one has claimed responsibility for.
“If this is the Labor Party’s parliamentary priority, that is their prerogative.
“I have no further comment.”
Labor MP Andrea Michaels told Parliament Ms Chapman transferred ownership of some parcels of land on Kangaroo Island to relatives after she received a report from the State Planning Commission.
Ms Chapman is also the Planning Minister.
“In the face of a report by an independent body, the State Planning Commission… which ultimately formed the view that the Smith Bay port should be approved, we have to ask ourselves why the Minister chose to refuse the application,” Ms Michaels told Parliament.
“The house should note that the Minister received the assessment report in the last week of July and made the decision not to approve the application on August 9.
“During this period of time, there were four parcels of land where the ownership was transferred to relatives of the Minister and her broader family.
“It is of concern that these land transactions occurred between the time the Minister received the report and made the decision not to approve the application.”
The select committee will consist of Ms Michaels, Mr Koutsantonis and Mr Duluk, along with Liberal MPs Matt Cowdrey and Peter Treloar.
It will report back on November 18.
Posted , updated