Media Release – Rosalie Woodruff MP, Greens Justice spokesperson, Thursday, 27 February 2020

Greens Refer Barnett, Archer and WorkSafe CEO to Integrity Commission

The Tasmanian Greens have today written to the Integrity Commissioner asking him to investigate allegations of the serious misconduct of Attorney-General Elise Archer, Resources Minister Guy Barnett, and WorkSafe CEO Mark Cocker.

Our complaint alleges the two Ministers have:

–  Improperly used their power and influence to threaten illegitimate legal sanction against political critics;

–  Lied or wilfully misled the public;

–  Discriminated against people on the basis of their political beliefs and activities;

–  Politicised the Public Service and undermined its integrity, and

–  Threatened our constitutionally-protected freedom of political speech.

The Greens also allege the Worksafe Chief Executive has acted beyond his powers, improperly used his role as Regulator, has lied, and undermined the public’s faith in the State Service.

Last week, WorkSafe issued the Bob Brown Foundation with a prohibition notice requiring them to “cease the carrying out forest protest activity throughout the State of Tasmania”, under the pretence of administering work health and safety laws.

On statewide radio, WorkSafe CEO Mark Cocker claimed his decision was not influenced by the government. At the same time as his interview, Attorney-General Archer and Minister Barnett issued a media release claiming they had referred the Bob Brown Foundation’s activities to WorkSafe.

Attorney-General Archer and Minister Barnett quickly backtracked from their statement.

Fortunately, the Bob Brown Foundation successfully appealed the prohibition notice from the WorkSafe Regulator in the Magistrates Court.

WorkSafe’s attack on peaceful forest protest comes after laws introduced by the Liberal Government to target protestors were ruled unconstitutional by the High Court of Australia.

The Liberals in government are becoming bolder and more brazen in their politicisation of the Public Service, and misuse of their ministerial powers. Tasmanians expect fair and impartial application of our laws, and serious sanctions to be applied when misconduct occurs.

We urge the Integrity Commission to use the full breadth of their powers to investigate this matter.

The Greens’ referral can be found here.

Media release – Elise Archer, Attorney-General, and Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources, 27 February 2020

Greens out of line

The action taken by the Greens today to refer WorkSafe Tasmania along with myself and Minister Barnett to the Integrity Commission for investigation is disgraceful.

As our Government has said repeatedly, the decision was a matter for the regulator and made independently of the Government.

This is simply yet another example of opposition parties trying to politicise the Integrity Commission.

The actions taken today are particularly disappointing given the Integrity Commission itself has expressed concern about the kinds of comments made by the Greens today.

As stated by the Chief Commissioner and CEO of the Integrity Commission in their 2017/18 Annual Report:

Less positively, we saw some occasions when the making of a complaint to us became the subject of political comment. Indeed, there were occasions on which a public commitment was made to refer a matter to us but nothing eventuated.

It is of great concern that public statements have been made by Members of Parliament about possible or actual complaints to the Integrity Commission.”

The Greens should be ashamed of themselves for wasting the Integrity Commission’s time.

GREENS: Slippery Language from Gutwein on WorkSafe Referral.