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Question: The Environment Minister’s Conflict of Interest

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:35): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question on the topic of conflict of interests and the Ministerial Code of Conduct to the Treasurer, representing the Premier.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: As I am sure the Treasurer is well aware, the Ministerial Code of Conduct states that:

Ministers should avoid situations in which their private interests conflict, have the potential to conflict or appear to conflict with their public duty.

The Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, has investments in Rio Tinto Ltd and in South32 Ltd: two mining companies. These are, of course, listed in the Register of Members' Interests at present. In response to a question in the other place yesterday, the minister stated:

This was brought to my attention at the time, and I was disappointed by that, but unfortunately the Ministerial Code of Conduct, I think, precludes either the buying or selling of shares, so it would be difficult, I think—

with regard to why he had not divested of those shares.

I note that the shares were in the minister's register of interests prior to March 2018, when he became a minister. However, in March 2018 the Minister for Environment and Water did divest from Oil Search Ltd and Iluka Resources Ltd: oil and mining companies.

My question to the Treasurer is: what advice was given to the Minister for Environment and Water that divesting from shares in oil and mining was advised and undertaken, and indeed able to be undertaken, yet his shares in mining and metals—namely Rio Tinto and South32—were not?


The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (14:37): I understand, although I obviously haven't had a chance to check the transcripts, some of these questions might have been traversed in another place yesterday, but I am happy to refer the honourable member's questions to the Premier and have a reply provided.

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