Victoria’s attorney-general has dismissed independent advice that he could have broken the law by advising political staffers to defy subpoenas issued by parliament.
A fiery Rob Hulls says Legislative Council clerk Wayne Tunnecliffe was wrong to say he could be in contempt of parliament for ordering a government media adviser to defy two subpoenas to appear at a Finance and Public Administration Committee inquiry.
Planning Minister Justin Madden’s former media adviser Peta Duke wrote an email, accidentally sent to the ABC, advocating a sham public consultation for the $260 million redevelopment of the historic Windsor Hotel.
She was subsequently called to give evidence into the redevelopment approval process, which Mr Hulls on Monday described as a witch-hunt.
"Mr Tunnecliffe ought know that the relevant conventions and protocols are such that they shouldn’t be appearing – I would’ve thought he’d know that," he told reporters, referring to former Liberal prime minister John Howard and the 2001 children overboard inquiry.
"Ministers are responsible for the job they do and ministers can be called for inquiries but not ministerial staffers.
"The minister is big enough to look after himself."
Mr Hulls said the opposition and the Greens wanted to play a "grubby political parlour game" in an all-male committee.
"She happens to be a young, female political staff member who the opposition parties want to bully," Mr Hulls said.
Committee chairman, Liberal MP Gordon Rich-Phillips, said the committee was not all male and the government had deliberately chosen to substitute standing member Candy Broad with Brian Tee.
Mr Hulls also advised Premier John Brumby’s head of communications George Svigos and media adviser Fiona Macrae not to appear after they were sent letters on March 24 requesting their attendance.
He refused to reveal whether or not the government was conducting its own internal investigations into the email.
He said Mr Madden had offered to relay Ms Duke’s answers to questions from the committee but the inquiry would not take evidence from him. Mr Madden has said he has no idea how Ms Duke came to write the email.
The committee wants to hear evidence from the media advisers before calling Mr Madden, Mr Rich-Phillips said.
It can refer Ms Duke’s failure to appear to the Legislative Council, which could then require her to appear before the chamber.
People found to be in contempt of parliament can technically be jailed or fined.
Mr Tunnecliffe is the principal apolitical adviser to the upper house president and MPs on rules, practices and procedures.
"The failure to respond to a summons to attend a committee hearing when required is a very serious matter," he said in a letter to the inquiry.
"A direction to not attend a committee hearing in response to a summons would in my view fall within the definition of contempt."
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said Victorians and the industry deserved to know the truth about planning processes.
"I don’t think anybody believes that this staffer made this (the fake consultation process) up," he told reporters.
Mr Baillieu said the opposition may move a motion in the lower house to have Mr Hulls referred to the Legislative Assembly Privileges Committee.
by melissa Jenkins
Hmmmm Councils sending monies off shore,.. all our countries tax dollars being spent. Look at greece and iceland and England,.. What do the pollies have a plan to banckrupt every country so the bankers can come along and take all the land in payment ,.. for the monies alledgedly owed to them.??
Flouride side effects Gooogle or Startpage search it they are putting it in your water,…
Dementia,.. steralising properties arthritus giving and bone cancer. And you get charged for the poision you ingest .
What a Joke. but thats ok Just watch the footy , drink ya beer , have a rest, watch some telly ,… and go back to work so your tax can be taken from your wage before you get it in your hand,… then you pay GST on every goods and service you consume,.. Power bills rising,… Internet filters ….
do you get teh feeling your being manouvered into a position/situation that some one wants you in?
SEC SEMPER TYRRANUS