Premier Steven Marshall says he won’t face a parliamentary committee investigating his deputy Vickie Chapman’s conduct when handling a port proposal on Kangaroo Island, even if he’s called before it.
- A parliamentary inquiry is underway into Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman’s decision to knock back a port on Kangaroo Island
- She owns property on the island, but has denied having a conflict of interest in the matter
- Premier Steven Marshall today said Ms Chapman was “the right person” to make the decision
Ms Chapman, in her role as SA’s Planning Minister, scuttled the multi-million-dollar deep seaport project at Smith Bay in August.
It would have been used to transport plantation timber off Kangaroo Island.
The Attorney-General owns property on the island and has repeatedly said she does not have a conflict of interest in denying the project planning approval.
The Premier said he backed Ms Chapman “100 per cent”.
“I mean, I give the opposition plenty of time to ask questions. We’ve got three days next week,” the Premier said, referring to when parliament sits and daily question time.
“There’s been no bias. She’s made the right decision.”
On Tuesday, the committee heard that two senior Liberals, former minister David Ridgway and Treasurer Rob Lucas, were to speak with the Premier about the possible conflict of interest.
Mr Ridgway, who is now the state’s Agent-General in London, told ABC Radio Adelaide he had not raised concerns with Mr Marshall about Ms Chapman’s handling of the project.
Through a statement, Rob Lucas said has “lots of conversations” with parliamentary colleagues and the Premier about “lots of different things”.
“And I don’t propose to ventilate them publicly,” he added.
Mr Marshall echoed that line when he was directly asked if the Treasurer had brought up the issue with him.
“I don’t go into private conversations,” he said.
“I don’t remember those conversations, that’s for sure.
“There’s been no evidence presented to this Kangaroo court in Parliament whatsoever that would suggest that there would be any bias.”
Decision ‘should have been taken to Cabinet’
Michael Lennon, who was the SA Planning Commission chair until March, told the committee it was his view that the decision should have been “taken to Cabinet”.
“My view is that it is always better for these matters to be determined by the Governor on the advice of Cabinet.”
Mr Lennon also recounted a conversation he had with the Department for Infrastructure and Transport chief executive, Tony Braxton-Smith, where the pair discussed Ms Chapman potentially declaring she did have a conflict.
But Mr Braxton-Smith said he “can’t recall” that conversation.
“I’ve got a flaky memory so there may have been a conversation at some point in time but I do not recall it,” Mr Braxton-Smith told the committee.
“My memory is incomplete, I may not have been paying attention, I don’t know.”
The committee resumes on Friday.