Tasmania’s mining minister Adam Brooks has resigned amid allegations of a conflict of interest.
Brooks was the founder of resources services company Maintenance Systems Solutions (MSS), and resigned from the business initially in 2012; however he stepped back into the role in 2015 during his time as parliamentary secretary for small business and trade, and then reportedly divested all interest and holdings in the company once he became mining minister in February this year.
However it has now emerged Brooks continued to use his company email, despite repeatedly denying any interaction with the company.
The issue first raised its head in May, when Tasmania’s Labor leader Bryan Green stated Brooks role as the state’s mining minister was untenable due to the fact Brooks retained his position as the sole shareholder of MSS, creating a direct conflict of interest.
Brooks outright rejected these claims as “smear and innuendo”, explaining an in official statement, “On becoming Minister, I resigned my directorship as is required under the Ministerial Code of Conduct.”
“As the Premier announced on February 18 this year, I have resigned all my relevant directorships, I have commenced the process of divestment and, in the meantime, a six-point protocol developed in consultation with the Solicitor-General has been implemented to ensure the highest levels of propriety,” Brooks said.
However he continued to use the company email address, reportedly to contact his constituents, according to the ABC.
The Opposition called for his immediate resignation upon the discovery of this fact, with premier Will Hodgman instead announcing a two-week audit of the emails to see if there was a conflict of interest.
Instead, Brooks has now resigned.
“Mr Brooks advised me that after reflection over the weekend and in consultation with his family, he came to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of the Government for him to do so,” Hodgman said in an official statement.
“We put in place strict protocols to manage Mr Brooks’ business situation, and there is no evidence to suggest they were not upheld. Nonetheless, the Crown Solicitor’s audit of Mr Brooks’ MSS email account will continue, in order to confirm it was not used in breach of the protocols.
“While Mr Brooks did correct the Parliamentary record on Thursday night, there is no doubt that his answers contributed to the perception of a conflict of interest.”
Green welcomed Brooks resignation, stating “Brooks himself acted where [the] premier refused to”.
“Clearly in the lead-up to tomorrow’s Parliament sitting Mr Brooks saw no way out and decided to fall on his sword,” Green said.
“But the simple fact is Mr Hodgman should have acted the minute he realised the Minister had lied so blatantly about the fact that he was asked to divest his interests in his mining company MSS and defied direction because he thought he was above the public interest test.
“Mr Brooks has done the only thing he could have done but Mr Hodgman should have acted decisively and not led Tasmanians down this very sorry path.”
Brooks will remain a member of parliament, but will be replaced as mining minister by Rene Hidding.