While the federal election campaign may be tedious, state politics in Queensland is never boring. Shadow attorney-general Ian Walker held a press conference yesterday where he demanded the Labor government be held to account for a nine-month-long police investigation and three-month-long independent evidentiary review that resulted in no charges being laid against Labor backbencher Rick Williams over decade-old allegations of business impropriety and sexual harassment.
It started off well but fell over once it became clear Walker didn’t understand the doctrine of the separation of powers. You can read the full and agonising transcript here:
Mr Walker: I’m questioning why the government isn’t giving us a better explanation of what has [sic] going on here.
Reporter: But it’s not the government’s investigation, that’s where we’re all confused, the government did not instigate this investigation, it was a police investigation that went to DPP who then referred it to the independent barrister and that is all independent of government, so you’re either alleging that the government should have interfered and, you know, got more answers or that the government did interfere and stop it.
Mr Walker: I’m suggesting that the government owes Queenslanders a better explanation of what has happened.
Reporter: Why? It’s a police investigation.
Mr Walker: Well, they need to explain the nature of that.
Reporter: But it’s a police investigation.
The ABC reports that Williams is reportedly seeking legal advice against the LNP as a result of the press conference.
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This is not the first time a Queensland conservative MP has stumbled over the separation of powers. In a 1989 interview for the 7.30 Report, journalist Quentin Dempster famously asked recently deposed Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen to explain the doctrine of the separation of powers. Bjelke-Petersen wasn’t able to answer the question, and neither was Russell Cooper, the man who rolled Bjelke-Petersen in a National Party leadership spill and lost the election to the Labor Party a mere 73 days later.