The Northern Territory’s anti-corruption watchdog has found the Speaker of the NT Legislative Assembly responsible for corrupt conduct and serious breaches of public trust.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner revealed the NT Independent Commissioner Against Corruption’s findings against Speaker Kezia Purick at a media conference on Monday morning.
Mr Gunner said ICAC found Ms Purick intervened in the attempted creation of a political party in the NT and misled the ICAC under oath.
He said ICAC launched its investigation after a complaint in June 2019 by then-independents Terry Mills and Robyn Lambley, who sought to form a new party to take NT opposition status.
Mr Gunner said commissioner Ken Fleming also found the Speaker acted dishonestly by releasing an untrue statement about her involvement in the matter, and that she had failed to uphold the law.
“The ICAC has concluded that these activities amount to corrupt conduct by the speaker,” he said.
He said the commissioner found potential breaches of the law but not that an offence had been committed.
“That will be a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions [and] the ICAC will refer these matters to them for their consideration,” he said.
Mr Gunner said he had contacted Ms Purick to offer her an opportunity to resign.
He said Labor would propose the Deputy Speaker takes over Ms Purick’s position when Parliament sits on Tuesday.
The investigation into the Speaker is the first significant finding from the NT’s ICAC, which began work in 2019.
Mr Gunner said his government established the ICAC to restore trust in the NT’s democracy and its institutions.
He said the government had played no role in referral of the matter but that he was releasing the ICAC’s report in the interest of transparency.
“Those parties involved are now free to explain their actions and the findings,” he said.
“I consider it my duty to inform you what I know when I am in a position to tell you, which I am doing this morning.
“I consider it to be in the public interest that these findings not be kept secret.”
Ms Purick was elected to the NT Legislative Assembly as a Country Liberals member in 2008 but quit the party in 2015 to serve as an independent.