Assembly orders Zed to come clean

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Liberals president for the ACT Liberal party, Tio Faulkner.

RUMOURS and accusations were thrown across the Legislative Assembly this morning as the ACT Government debated and passed the motion that will see Opposition Leader Zed Seselja face 13 questions by Thursday in regards to his office’s timesheet controversy.

The motion proposed by Labor backbencher John Hargreaves will also see Speaker Shane Rattenbury look into an independent workplace audit.

The vote, 11 to six, was not without heat, centering around the work hours of ACT Liberal president Tio Faulkner, who  works within Mr Seselja’s office.

Mr Hargreaves questioned how much time Mr Faulkner spent working in the Assembly as opposed to the ACT Liberal head office at 221 London Circuit.

ACT Greens leader Meredith Hunter told the Assembly that the failure to submit time sheets was not the real issue, but whether Mr Seselja had “engaged in fraudulent or other wrongful conduct and allowed his staff to be paid for work that they didn’t do”.

“Were those timesheets correct and do those timesheets correctly account for work that has been done in this Assembly?” she asked.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said there were rumours of “phantom staff arrangements”, but was shot down by an interjection from Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne, who described the debate as a “kangaroo court” and reminded the Assembly the debate should be “based on fact and truth”.

Deputy Opposition Leader Brendan Smyth introduced an amendment to the motion seeking to open the inquiry to all offices, however it failed.

In his speech, Mr Smyth said described the Hargreaves motion as a slur on the office of the Speaker, the office of the clerk and on the secretariat.

“If this has been cleared up to the satisfaction of the clerk and the Speaker, what are we doing here this morning?” he said.

“I’ll tell you what we are doing here this morning, we are doing politics.

“This isn’t about an attempt of getting to the truth. We got to the truth. Ms Hunter told us this morning that the matter had been cleared up.

“So why are we here? We are here because it suits the Labor Party and it suits the Greens to cast slur and allegations on the Leader of the Opposition because, despite the Chief Minister’s denials on the radio this morning, this is an election year and they see this as a hot button and they are going to push it for as long and as hard as they can.”

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