Tasmanian Times

Politics

It’s all a Labor plot, says Ritchie

SUE NEALES, Mercury … With link to the Neales’ analysis at the end of the extract, below …

ALLISON Ritchie says her Labor colleagues are behind a vicious campaign to discredit her over staffing of her electoral office.

The Upper House politician has also angrily denied speculation she abruptly quit as Tasmania’s Minister for Planning and Workplace Relations last November, after just six weeks in the job, because of internal government concerns about the administration of her electoral office.

Ms Ritchie has been at the centre of a political furore this week about nepotism in inner government circles, after it was revealed she had employed her mother, two sisters and her brother-in-law on her own staff.

The Legislative Council member for Pembroke on Hobart’s Eastern Shore insists nothing untoward or improper has occurred.

But Ms Ritchie has admitted her mother was never interviewed by the independent Legislative Council official sent to help her appoint a new research assistant funded by the public purse.

In a tense hour-long interview with the Mercury to put the speculation and claims about her office arrangements to her before the scandal broke this week, Ms Ritchie conceded that:

She never told the Legislative Council that job applicant Christine McIntyre was her mother.

Mrs McIntyre did not arrive at the arranged time for a job interview with Legislative Council finance manager Jan Chipman in August 2007.

Her mother was interviewed for the part-time job in Ms Ritchie’s office by her executive assistant Carolyn Coward — her own sister — and Luke Coward, her brother-in-law and previous holder of the job.

Ms Chipman was then phoned and told by Ms Ritchie that, after reviewing the two applicants, “it was clear (Mrs McIntyre) was the best one”.

Ms Ritchie says she has done nothing wrong.

She says there was nothing secretive or hidden in her employment of her mother or any family members. Nor was it illegal or fraudulent.

“What you should be asking is who is trying to spread these nasty lies and rumours around the place and why?” a furious Ms Ritchie said.

“I am under no illusions — I know it’s people within the Labor Party.

“This is about someone trying to attack me, to use a familial situation to make out something is improper when it is not.

“Look at why this is happening now; we are going into a state election and some people within Labor don’t want me to return to the (Bartlett) ministry because they want that job themselves.

“That’s what this is all about; people from within wanting to take me down; who fear me `getting back on the horse’ — coming back into the ministry — because it is a threat to them.”

The ambitious Ms Ritchie, 34, is angry that because she has employed her mother, two sisters and her brother-in-law in her electoral office during the past three years, she is now being painted as lacking political judgment and inept.

She is also adamant there is no nepotism involved and that she was unaware of the Legislative Council rule that says members cannot employ relatives in their offices except in a temporary or emergency capacity. Read more here

This comment, posted minutes after Tasmanian Times published Keeping it in the family? was as accurate as any:

Hag, the real questions is:

Did the Premier’s Office only discover that Ms Ritchie had been employing her mother after Ritchie had already been appointed a Minister and was the real reason why she then abruptly resigned as Minister due to “ill health” because Bartlett and Aird quietly moved her aside to avoid yet-another Ministerial scandal?

This is the worst kept secret in Tasmanian politics, its just that no Journo has had the evidence to drop it and no MP has had the balls to raise it in Parliment.

Her sudden appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Economic Development, announced quietly on budget day of all days, is more about now trying to cover the fact she has twice the resources and staff of other MLCs. It’s a bloody disgrace.

Posted by In the know on 15/06/09 at 09:59 AM

The SUE NEALES’ analysis, extract:

She also emphatically denies that she stood down as a minister for any other reason than her illness, or that the Oceana Consulting inquiry conducted by former head bureaucrat Michael Clarke ever looked at her office structure, employees or financial affairs.

But, in light of all these swirling rumours, scenarios and innuendo — however improbable or inaccurate — it was always almost inevitable that Ms Ritchie’s promotion to become a parliamentary secretary on Budget day would serve as a magnet to bring all the gossip out in the open.

And it did, when the Tasmanian Times website opened the can of worms on Monday by posing some hypothetical questions of Ms Ritchie — which were then seized on by the Liberal Opposition in Question Time on the first sitting day last Tuesday.

For the Government, it was the last thing it needed — another scandal about nepotism, secret dealings and special deals for special mates within its inner ranks.

The matter was not helped by the Government refusing to knock the issue on the head as soon as it arose on Tuesday.

If a full explanation had been made immediately about Ms Ritchie, her mother and her happy-family electoral office, the haemorrhaging of the next four days would not have been nearly as damaging.

On the positive side, it appears the Ritchie issue has now forced the Government to, however belatedly, clean up its act on the damaging issue of nepotism and non-merit appointments when it comes to taxpayer-funded political jobs.

Mr Bartlett has said he now has a firm policy of not employing any more family members in the offices of Government members.

But why this decision was not made and announced earlier this year after the Premier’s own report condemned the prevalence of this indefensible practice remains an unanswered question.

More significantly for the Bartlett Government, the row over Ms Ritchie’s office has once again revealed how many Labor ministers and politicians still do not understand the importance of perception to their political performance and survival.

Ms Ritchie has spent the week stridently maintaining she has done nothing wrong or illegal and is a hapless victim of nasty politics.

But perception is not just about the appearance of doing the right or legal thing.

It is about the inherent trust an electorate places in the ability of the Government and its politicians to do the right thing by them, using their hard-earned taxes.

Ms Ritchie might think she has legal right on her side when she says she should be allowed to choose and employ whoever she wants in her electorate office.

But when the people she chooses are her two sisters, her mother and her brother-in-law — their salaries all funded by the public purse — that right looks mighty hollow and not very moral at all. Read the FULL ANALYSIS,: HERE

The Libs don’t allow it:

Will Hodgman MP

Leader of the State Opposition

Friday 19 June, 2009

Taxpayers must not fund ‘family firms’

· The Tasmanian Liberals do not employ family members

· That policy has been re-affirmed by Will Hodgman

· Labor is challenged to adopt the same approach

No State Member of the Parliamentary Liberal Party is allowed to employ a direct family member in their offices.

And that policy will continue in government.

This means no parents, children, brothers or sisters.

It does not mean that an employee cannot be in any way related to an MP – that would be completely unworkable. However any such appointments to work for Liberal parliamentarians must be on objective merit.

David Bartlett must adopt the same approach and not hide behind “decisions made before I became ALP leader”.

Electorate offices are there to support MPs in providing representation and assistance to their constituents, not to provide a tax-payer funded firm for all the family, as Allison Ritchie appears to have done.

And

Peter Gutwein MP
Shadow Treasurer
Friday 19 June, 2009

How much has the Ritchie staff scandal cost taxpayers?

The Treasurer must correct his clearly misleading statements to both Houses of Parliament regarding Ms Allison Ritchie’s staffing arrangements and also reveal how much it cost the taxpayer to over staff her office.

Mr Aird has told Parliament that Ms Ritchie had more staff than she was entitled to when she came back to work on the 5th of January when he told both houses of parliament “at this time, she was 0.4 FTE over compliment”.

However, in the same statement the Treasurer said that Ms Ritchie also had extra staff in her office from the end of April and that “she was over quota with staffing for a period of 5 weeks” to the 11 June 2009, when she was appointed as Mr Aird’s parliamentary Secretary.

Very clearly this last statement is misleading as Ms Ritchie had more staff than she was entitled to from 5 January 2009 – a period of more than 5 months, not the 5 weeks Mr Aird is suggesting.

Furthermore, the Treasurer should reveal how much it cost taxpayers to over staff Ms Ritchie’s office. Based on figures the Premier released to Parliament last year, Ms Ritchie’s 0.4 FTE over entitlement would have cost the taxpayer around $10,000, whilst the extra 1 FTE for a period of 5 weeks would cost around $5,000.

The Treasurer should explain exactly what the cost was and whilst doing so he should correct his clearly misleading statements to both Houses of Parliament.

W: www.willhodgman.com.au

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. salamander

    June 21, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Why does Allison Ritchie think her colleagues felt the need to create this campaign? Are they also so incompetent that they can’t just say to their reverred leader, who was APPARENTLY ignorant of the situation, that this needed tidying up – after the $46,000 audit which highlighted the problem!!!

    That suggests so much incompetence at all levels, it amazes me that this government can function at all. With the depletion in numbers, and the frequent examples of poor judgement by the remaining few, this amazement is growing.

    Bartlett promised so much, and has yet to deliver one iota of his promises.

  2. Valleywatcher

    June 20, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    So THIS is ‘stable majority government’, eh?
    Jeeesus wept!

  3. Wanda

    June 20, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Allison who??
    Another quiet underachiever caught.

    Arrogance and superciliousness bordering on imbecility seems to be the common thread in the Labor fabric of our State Government.

    Another greedy little piggy gets nudged away from their spot at the trough and squeals all the way home about how hard done by they are.
    But then again, it has been said that the electorate gets the reps they deserve.

    The last paragraph in post #2 brings to mind a comment made by Don Chipp many years ago just before an upcoming election.
    He noted that, of the two major political parties in any electoral contest, the winner will always be the one most able to influence the huge group of voters that some politicians refer to as “the moronic majority”.

  4. Claire and Charles Gilmour

    June 20, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Following on from (5) – When it comes to Mr 17% Pauls, preferred Paula, let’s say it how it really is, without the niceties – $55,000 for a root and to keep quiet on the toot! Was it THAT good for Paula or the labor government … let alone for the public – we the public didn’t get any benefit from being f—ed around …. then WHY the hell should the public have had to pay for a government minister to be screwed? And that is the upshot of it all!, like it, the truth, or not! Why didn’t Paula pay her driver off personally? Someone is obviously driving -‘it’s all normal labor government practice’ to screw the public – eh!! The government has never explained just WHY the public paid for that indiscretion. Hello… we still want to know just WHY the labor government, let alone Paula, got away with this $55,000 driver payout. And don’t give us the depression bullshit, ‘cos I’ve got a better and more legitimate argument where that is concerned.

  5. pilko

    June 19, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    #7 Correction Wriedt said he wanted to punch Bartlett. It was of course Julian Green the former chief of Lennons RPDC that said he felt like punching Lennon.

  6. Snowy

    June 19, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Ritchie thought that was what Bartlett meant about
    Tasmania being kind, clever and connected: kind to your family, clever in finding them employment – and connected in every possible way.

  7. piko

    June 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    As Karl rightly points out Ritchie can expect little or no sympathy out of the Tamar Valley.
    Oh how the chickens are coming home to roost for this grubby government. You live by the sword and you die by the sword ay.
    What a soap opera we see unfolding with almost weekly episodes. Last weekend it was the unedifying spectacle of a dear old Honey Bacon (who has probably been rolled once to many times by the media for these intra-party barneys) and Paula Wriedt duking out in the print media whilst Paula complained about her terrible treatment by the party. And of course we had Paula’s dad Ken Wriedt saying he wanted to punch Pal Lennon!
    A few weeks before that we had the disgraced former Premier Lennon complaining that he had been let down by Kons and Green. This week it was a labor staffer taking Kons to court seeking a restraining order against the disgraced former Labor Deputy Premier. Everyone knows how much Green and Kons hate each other. We have also had Labor identity Simon Cooper and a labor staffer Mike Hawkes giving damning evidence against Lennon in Legislative council select committee. And of course we all know how much the whole labor party hates Terry Martin. Oh and now of course we have Bartlett showing Michael Aird up in the parliament. Whats going on between these two? And I wont drag up the Scott Gadd thing again.
    What does this all add up too? Disunity and instability and clear evidence of the me first culture that permeates this toxic organisation that is meant to be governing our state. What a bloody hopeless lot. If you cant win the next election Will Hodgman you ought to give the game away.
    What next?

  8. Claire and Charles Gilmour

    June 19, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Nothing quite like having labor pull themselves apart from the inside … can some insider pass them some more rope so labors misery of a ministry can completely suspend themselves… ‘imploding’ is a word labor should seriously start familiarising themselves with.

  9. Nigel Crisp

    June 19, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    A great article Garry, I loved it !
    All things seem solvable from the public purse don’t they, even Paula’s early pension and Mr Chaffey’s one off payment and taxpayer-funded Counseling.
    The ongoing cock-ups keep continuing of course, but the immediate one that worries me is having that half-wit Sturgo in charge of the rail takeover in November.

  10. Brad Stevens

    June 19, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    That show pony photo is really bad! Even more so to think that we paid for the groomers to come in and help her look like that 🙁

  11. Garry Stannus

    June 19, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Not Nepotism? Her mum gets interviewed by a sister and brother-in-law; mum and two sisters and the brother-in-law are employed …Not Nepotism?

    Not guilty due to ignorance? Ignorance of the law is not a defence – though frustratingly a judge in Bryan Green’s case seemed to suggest that it was.

    Resigned due to ill health? Cover up? Government cover up? This govt can hardly claim to have established a record of integrity and competence. They are amateurs in the worst sense of the word.

    Labor in Tasmania has betrayed the Labor Movement. It owed them more than mates deals, obsession with logging, lies, scandals, controversies, resignations, idiocy.

    I think that’s where I’d like to leave it – the picture of this govt as idiots, as intellectual failures, as being susceptible to cheat, deal, dupe, lie and all the time thinking that they are ‘cutting edge’.

    It is bad enough that we have this appalling bunch of amoral MPs called a Labor Government, it is worse to think that there is an electorate who put them in the position. Good old John Doe and Jane Citizen – who rise to spectacular heights of failure each time they run from TweedleLab to TweedleLib. I’m talking ‘moral’ failure, for surely those who vote for these two parties must be held to be morally responsible for what they do.

  12. emily

    June 19, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Oh, the stench!

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