• Departmental staff concerned Courtney investigation will not go far enough
  • Premier has to guarantee investigation looks at all decisions made and not made by former Minister since March
  • Staff in former Minister’s agency need confidence they can provide frank advice

An investigation into conflicts of interest by former Primary Industries Minister Sarah Courtney must look at every decision she made and declined to make and allow evidence to be provided by staff across the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

Labor Transparency Committee Chair Jo Siejka said serious issues had today been raised that DPIPWE staff were concerned they would not be able to provide frank advice for a number of reasons in the current investigation into Ms Courtney over her personal relationship with her departmental head.

Ms Siejka said Premier Hodgman could not ignore the concerns raised with him by the Community and Public Sector Union on behalf of DPIPWE staff including:

  • The investigation would be limited, focusing on decisions made by Ms Courtney to proceed with certain matters and ignore decisions where recommendations were dismissed
  • Staff would be prevented from giving evidence unless they were given permission by superiors and would risk their employment unless given protection from prosecution under the State Service Code of Conduct and
  • It is critical two senior members of the Premier’s staff who formerly held senior positions in DPIPWE are not involved in the investigation

“If the Premier is serious that the investigation into Ms Courtney is thorough, he must take these concerns on board and act on them today,” Ms Siejka said.

“Staff want to be involved and there should be no barrier to their involvement in an investigation which is looking at decisions made at the highest levels of government. “Because the Premier has been unwilling to answer the pertinent question about when Ms Courtney’s relationship with her Department Secretary began, that investigation must look at every decision she was involved with since she joined his Ministry in March.

“It’s clear that Ms Courtney didn’t declare the relationship to the Premier immediately, as demanded in the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

“If the Premier thinks he can sweep this under the rug with a narrow, cynical investigation, he’s wrong.”