SA deputy premier loses confidence vote

·3-min read

The South Australian parliament has passed a motion of no confidence in Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman for misleading statements over her refusal of a Kangaroo Island development application.

With 23 MPs voting in favour and 22 against, the vote marks the first time in South Australian history a no-confidence motion has been passed in the lower house against a minister.

The motion secured the support of four crossbenchers, with former Liberal MP Fraser Ellis abstaining from the vote.

Labor MP Stephen Mullighan moved the motion, declaring that Ms Chapman "must resign" after an inquiry found she repeatedly misled parliament about conflicts of interest.

"She now is tainted, she now has a proven reputation for misleading this house, and we can no longer have confidence in her for this reason," Mr Mullighan said.

Labor MP Andrea Michaels earlier tabled the parliamentary committee's final report into Ms Chapman's rejection in August of a $40 million timber port on Kangaroo Island, describing her denials of conflicts of interest as "Trumpesque at best".

"Blatant denialism of objective evidence and plain truth does the attorney-general no favour," Ms Michaels told the SA parliament on Thursday.

Premier Steven Marshall spoke against the motion, pointing to a dissenting report by Liberal MPs that cleared Chapman.

"A lot of bluff, a lot of bluster from those opposite, but no cognisant argument that would support this motion," Mr Marshall said.

"(Ms Chapman) enjoys my 100 per cent confidence."

The parliamentary committee found Ms Chapman, who is planning minister and attorney-general, should be suspended from parliament for nine days and make a public apology.

Ms Chapman and her family have long held property on Kangaroo Island, but she told the committee she had no personal interest in any business or industry.

The report highlighted Ms Chapman's denial of a pecuniary interest when rejecting the timber port, given it would have led to increased truck movements near a property she owned that was being used periodically as an Airbnb.

The committee also found Ms Chapman had misled parliament by falsely claiming "there is no proposed route past (Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly's) house for loads of trucks", when in fact the route passed next to the property of the mayor, who is a close personal friend of the attorney-general.

Representing Ms Chapman, Frances Nelson QC, had argued the idea that "trucks passing proximate to a property owned by her is somehow influencing her decision is again simply ludicrous".

Ms Michaels said Ms Nelson's submission sought "to promote the attorney-general's private agenda at best".

Ms Chapman's rejection of the port came despite her department ruling the project could go ahead after an assessment found any environmental concerns could be managed.

The committee was made up of two Labor MPs including Ms Michaels, two Liberal MPs, and one independent, in Sam Duluk. The Liberals dissented.

The committee also recommended legislative reforms be considered to address the fact a single decision maker was responsible for deciding the fate of a major development.

In a dissenting statement, the committee's Liberal MPs Peter Treloar and Matt Cowdrey rejected the findings of the report, arguing the department's overturned recommendation was "finely balanced" and the attorney-general complied with the Ministerial Code of Conduct at all times.

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