Labor gags public servants over Susan Close’s conflict of interest

Monday 27 June 2022

The Liberal Party has called for a special meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee to unearth information about the Deputy Premier’s conflict of interest in relation to the movement of sand between West Beach and Semaphore.

In extraordinary scenes during Estimates, Department for Environment and Water executives were gagged from answering questions on the matter – a move that once again shines light on Labor’s trouble with transparency.

Chair Tony Piccolo was quick to protect colleague Susan Close, stating he does “not think it is appropriate for public servants to answer questions” despite it being common practice throughout Estimates.

In an obvious sign of collusion, a relieved Susan Close said: “the Chair has read my mind”.

Leader of the Opposition David Speirs said Labor’s trouble with transparency is clear as day.

“The Estimates process involves executive public servants who advise Ministers and it’s common practice for them to answer questions on their behalf,” Mr Speirs said.

“Susan Close allowed her Department to answer questions on other topics during the day but in this case an extraordinary roadblock was laid out – a gag order to stop public servants from speaking about her conflict of interest.

“I have serious disappointment in Labor’s lack of transparency on this issue. It begs the question why is Labor so invested in shutting down all conversation on this topic?

“We were robbed of our chance to litigate this matter with senior public servants in line with the process and procedure of Parliament.

“Unfortunately, we are left with no option but the pursue the matter further by way of a special meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee to get answers.”