PHOTO: Matt Conlon. Photo from News Ltd
From the NT News, 11th March 2014
Tourism minister “should be in anger management”
THE Territory’s tourism minister should take anger management classes, the opposition leader has said.
Firebrand Namatjira MLA Alison Anderson has alleged NT Tourism Minister Matt Conlan said: “Why don’t you do us all a big favour Alison and f*** off, you c***”.
Greatorex MLA Mr Conlon has only said in a written statement: “As is normal parliamentary custom, out of respect to all of my colleagues I will not be commenting on what is or is not said inside the party room”. He has not fronted-up to media.
Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie said: “Matt Conlan should already be on an anger management program”.
“He should have been forced to apologise immediately, put on an anger management program and then as leader you’d really consider if he is fit to be in cabinet.
“I wouldn’t have a man that uses such language in my cabinet.”
Alison Anderson, pictured on her family’s country near the remote community of Papunya. Picture: AMOS AIKMAN Source: News Corp Australia
But some other party members have said they failed to hear an insult.
Ms Anderson spoke on ABC Darwin morning radio, using only the first letters of the offending words, used in a pre-Parliamentary wing meeting last month, as reported in the Sunday Territorian.
It took Mr Conlan three days to make a formal apology after female members hounded him, Ms Anderson said.
Matt Conlan. Source: News Limited
Health Minister Robyn Lambley told the Sunday Territorian she no longer felt willing or able to defend Mr Conlan or be part of a cover-up.
Ms Anderson confirmed the verbal slur was heard by MLA Larissa Lee, who was sitting between the two.
“I felt absolutely insulted,” Ms Anderson told ABC radio on Tuesday — about a week ahead of the National Day Against Bullying on March 21.
She said she had not spoken out earlier because she had been recovering from surgery to her arm.
When Ms Anderson brought the comment to Chief Minister Adam Giles’ attention, she said he replied: “We have a full agenda. Let’s get on with business.”
In a press conference on Tuesday, March 10, Mr Giles refused to speak about alleged offensive remarks made by Mr Conlan towards Ms Anderson.
Mr Giles was asked several at a press conference about the issue, and each time said: “I’m not going to go into any deliberations about what went on in a party meeting”.
“Party meetings are confidential and they should remain that way,” he said.
But he did say “any party meeting is robust and I will not tolerate any bullying, swearing, or racist remarks in those meetings.”
“I’ve already condemned any negative behaviour against man, woman, or child in our community.”
He said there had been different accounts of what went on in the meeting.
Speaker Kezia Purick, who sat near the head of the table with Mr Giles, said she failed to hear the comments about what was said.
“Most of us didn’t hear what was said — it was under his breath,” the Goyder MLA said.
“I could see there was some argy-bargy going on.
“I do remember her saying: “chief minister, he just swore at me”.
“Something was the trigger.
“But she accepted the apology.
“If she was so offended at the time, she should’ve pushed it.
Ms Purick said there is often swearing, but she remembers reprimanding a since unelected member for once using the c-word.
“If she accepted the apology, why was she on the radio (yesterday) morning?” she said.
“I’ve never known Matt Conlan to use that language.
“The question I would ask, is what Alison said initially?”
Labor member for Nhulunbuy Lynne Walker said she had also been subjected to bullying by Mr Conlan when she rebuked him as deputy speaker in 2011.
She said Mr Giles later apologised to her for Mr Conlan’s behaviour.
“In the chamber there can be some pretty robust behaviour but where it becomes intimidating, bullying and threatening, then that’s unacceptable,” Ms Walker told ABC radio.
NT Chief Minister Adam Giles with Prime Minister Tony Abbott outside Northern Territory Parliament House Source: News Corp Australia
Ms Anderson denied she was speaking out about the incident to destabilise the government.
It follows speculation she and fellow members Ms Lee and Francis Xavier were planning to leave the Country Liberals and form their own party because they felt their remote bush electorates were being ignored by the government.
“Absolutely not,” she said, adding that the chief minister had her full support.
When asked if there was a culture of disrespect towards women in the CLP, Ms Anderson said that was a matter for the party room to clear up.
“We talk about violence against women … and this (verbal abuse) is one part of it,” she said.
Stuart MLA Bess Price said: “I am not interested in joining some breakaway party.”
“Regarding the alleged incident involving the Members for Namatjira and Greatorex, I did not hear the words that were alleged to have been said.”