Lisa Cox August 06, 2012
The ACT Greens did not misuse public funds to produce brochures that mentioned their policy achievements, an investigation by the ACT Legislative Assembly has found.
Deputy Speaker Mary Porter has dismissed a complaint from Liberals MLA Alistair Coe, who was recently ordered to repay thousands of dollars for using his Assembly allowance to produce party political flyers.
Mr Coe had asked the Speaker's office to investigate at least six ACT Greens' flyers that he claimed breached discretionary office entitlement guidelines because they mentioned the party's parliamentary agreement with ACT Labor.
But in a letter to Mr Coe, Ms Porter said there had been no wrongdoing found.
ACT Greens leader Meredith Hunter said she was not surprised by the ruling on what she described as a ''tit-for-tat'' complaint.
''Because Alistair and Vicki [Dunne] were found to have breached the guidelines and to have not used their funds properly, it did seem Mr Coe had a bit of tanty and lodged a complaint,'' Ms Hunter said.
''We take the responsibility very seriously around the use of public money.
''All of our publications we have checked and seek the advice of the secretariat to ensure they meet guidelines.
''If we make changes, we go back and have those checked before we print,'' she said.
Ms Porter said she had made her ruling after seeking advice from the Assembly clerk.
Mr Coe refused to comment on the Deputy Speaker's decision when contacted by The Canberra Times.
In his complaint about the Greens brochures, Mr Coe accused Speaker Shane Rattenbury's office of ''hypocrisy'' and claimed the flyers were party political because they promoted services the four Greens MLAs had delivered under the parliamentary agreement.
''The Assembly ruled the parliamentary agreement as a partisan document, yet thousands of taxpayer dollars are being used to promote it, which is not allowed,'' he said at the time. A second complaint by Mr Coe, demanding the ACT Ombudsman investigate Mr Rattenbury's office, is still being finalised.
Mr Coe has demanded the Ombudsman review the decisions made by Mr Rattenbury and has accused the Greens MLA of bias in his role as Speaker.
A spokeswoman for Ombudsman Alison Larkins said she was still determining whether or not the complaint could be investigated.
Mr Coe and Ms Dunne were found last month to have misused thousands of dollars of public money to fund their election campaigns.
Mr Rattenbury's office upheld a complaint that pamphlets distributed in the MLAs' Ginninderra electorate amounted to an abuse of their entitlements.
The brochures criticised the Labor government over cost blowouts on the Cotter Dam and Gungahlin Drive extension projects.
Assembly members are given a taxpayer-funded ''discretionary office allowance'' (DOA) to cover electorate expenses but there are strict rules against using the money in re-election campaigns or for party political purposes.