John Clarke's spirit livens up Tasmanian political debate



April 11, 2017 21:07:55

A member of the Tasmanian Parliament has paid homage to the late satirist John Clarke by delivering an important speech in the style of Clarke and Dawe, causing the chamber to erupt in laughter.

The Upper House was weighing up whether the Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein should be held in contempt of Parliament.

He has refused to surrender a document detailing advice given by Treasury about the potential sale of a power station in the lead-up to the 2016 energy crisis.

A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) established to examine the crisis which crippled the state has only ever been given a redacted copy of the Treasury advice, and therefore has been unable to determine whether the Government was advised against the power station’s sale.

In Parliament on Tuesday, debate about what should be done about Mr Gutwein’s “failure to comply” included a performance by former Saturday morning cartoon television host turned politician Craig Farrell.

He likened the stand-off between the PAC and Mr Gutwein as the kind of fodder lampooned by Clarke And Dawe, the vehicle for Bryan Dawe and satirist John Clarke who died on Monday.

Mimicking the delivering of Clarke and Dawe, Mr Farrell told the Parliament while the debate was about “a very serious issue, at times it certainly seemed like a comedy routine”.

Mr Farrell said: “With the sad passing of John Clarke, who used satire to get his message across, and with the help of a ghost writer, the routine would have gone something like this:

“Treasurer Gutwein, thanks for joining us.

“My pleasure.

“Treasurer, can I have a copy of the document?

“No, you can’t, I’ll give you a look at it (waving the document around). There you go. Anything else I can help you with?

“But there are a number of words missing!

“Oh come on, clearly not all the words are missing. Only the ones you can’t see.”

The routine provoked laughter among members gathered for the debate.

PAC chair tips bucket on colleagues

Independent MLC for Windemere Ivan Dean, who faced off against Mr Gutwein over the document in March, said a third party may need to be called in to determine the matter.

“Perhaps a retired judge for instance,” he said.

Mr Dean called into the question the abilities of his fellow PAC committee members, after Liberals Joan Rylah and Sarah Courtney issued a dissenting statement to the report on Peter Gutwein’s failure to comply with the summons.

“There is no training at all for members occupying positions in joint-house committees, that lack of training and understanding of the role is patently clear in this case,” Mr Dean told the Upper House.

“We do need to address this.”

Acting Leader of the Upper House Liberal Leonie Hiscutt maintained Mr Gutwein had acted appropriately.

“The reasons for the Treasurer’s refusal to produce the document in question are clear. The Treasurer has advised both in writing and in evidence before the committee that the document is cabinet in confidence,” she said.

Independent MLC Ruth Forrest said the issue came down to “the old pub test”.

“What has the Treasurer got to hide? Is it something so embarrassing that the Government will be frightfully embarrassed if it comes out?”

The debate will resume on Wednesday.







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