Independents flex their muscles and vote to investigate the SA deputy prime minister’s rejection of port


Days after Liberal MP Dan Cregan fell, the South Australian government lost a number of votes in parliament, including one to close an investigation into the deputy prime minister’s conduct.

The government lost three votes in the House of Assembly in the first two hours of the session.

Mr Cregan, along with two other former Labor Liberals, voted to set up a special committee to investigate Deputy Prime Minister Vickie Chapman.

The opposition says the committee will investigate the conduct of Ms. Chapman, who earlier this year rejected an application by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers to build a deep-water port facility in Smith Bay.

Labor MP Tom Koutsantonis told Parliament that the committee would “investigate the conduct of the Attorney General and the Deputy Prime Minister in their assessment of this motion”.

“Whether there is actually a deep conflict in their decision-making process and whether Parliament has actually been misled,” said Koutsantonis.

Kavel MP Dan Cregan has vowed to create more infrastructure for his Adelaide Hills residents. (abc news)

The establishment of the committee was successful after three former Liberals decided to vote with Labor on the matter – Dan Cregan, Sam Duluk and Troy Bell.

The same independents also supported a move that would allow the committee to start work immediately, even during today’s meeting hours.

Crossbencher Fraser Ellis, who suspended his membership in the Liberal Party after being charged with fraud, abstained.

Chapman says the matter is settled

Ms. Chapman, who owns land on Kangaroo Island, has previously declined proposals of a conflict of interest.

“This issue has already been dealt with and dismissed by the spokesman,” she said in a statement after the committee was set up.

“Parliament is free to set up a select committee, as the state government did with the despicable publication of a racist Labor Party poster in the 2014 election for which no one was held responsible.

“If that is the Labor Party’s parliamentary priority, that is its prerogative.

“I have no further comment.”

Trees in vertical lines burned either black or white with a highway passing through
A subsidy program has been set up to bring wood from Kangaroo Island to homes. (ABC News: Haidarr Jones)

Labor MP Andrea Michaels told Parliament that Ms. Chapman transferred ownership of some properties on Kangaroo Island to relatives after receiving a report from the state planning commission.

Ms. Chapman is also Minister of Planning.

“Given a report from an independent agency, the State Planning Commission … which ultimately took the view that the Smith Bay port should be cleared, we have to wonder why the minister rejected the request,” Ms. Michaels told Parliament .

“The House should note that the Minister received the evaluation report in the last week of July and made the decision on August 9 not to approve the application.

“During this period there were four pieces of land, the ownership of which passed to relatives of the minister and her other family.

“It is worrying that these land transactions took place between the time the minister received the report and made the decision not to approve the application.”

A woman with long black hair in it
Labor MP Andrea Michaels said she was deeply concerned about Ms. Chapman’s actions.(abc news)

The select committee consists of Ms Michaels, Mr Koutsantonis and Mr Duluk, and Liberal MPs Matt Cowdrey and Peter Treloar.

It will report on November 18th.

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