Yes Minister, honesty is the best policy

Honesty is always the best policy.
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Especially when you’re sitting before a five person committee that is being recorded and placed on the record forever.

And especially when you’re a minister of the crown.

Mining Minister Adam Brooks says he misheard several questions to him from Labor’syoung gun Scott Bacon over whether he still usedan email account from his consultancy firmMaintenance Systems Solutions.

The questions were raised during budget estimates on Thursday, and Mr Brooks repeatedly said “no”.

It matters, because if he is still using theaccount for business purposes there could be a conflict of interest.

And that is something that is a big no-no when you’re a minister.

Mr Brooks returned to the committee table ten minutes after the denial, and said he had to correct the record because he misheard.

He said he still had an account but only used it for personal use.

History shows usthat lying or giving mistruths, intentionally or unintentionally, can end a minister’scareer in an instance.

It leaves a bad taste in the mouth of voters andreminds themof the darker days of backroom dealsand trust issues between the public and the government.

And it flies in the face of the Liberals effort to be transparent and open.

The Liberals have already had a scare when it comes to mistruths.

State Growth Minister Matthew Groom was forced to correct the record last year over whether thestate government hadsigned a memorandum of understanding with the University of Tasmania and TasTAFE to investigate a possible Hobart property swap.

He was forthcoming with evidence to show the answer he gave in Parliament was wrong.

Mr Brooks is the newest member of the cabinet, and the riskiest for the government.

He last year apologised to the Premier for missing a bus on a trade mission toChina, and the issue embarrassingly hung around for a few days.

When he was sworn into cabinethis business interests soon began to be questioned, and the Premier assured Tasmanians that Mr Brooks would divest of all his interests.

The issue has also dominated question time, with Labor quizzing him on his dealings duringa trade missionwhen was a parliamentary secretary.

The Liberals continued to say they were proud to have such a successful businessman like Mr Brooks in their ranks, and that he did nothing improper.

The latest gaffe over theemail address does nothing to improve the image.

While he hasn’t been sacked, he’s been sidestepped while an audit is undertaken.

It was a very straightforward question that tripped him up, and couldn’t possibly be misheard or misunderstood.

The correction appeared staged.

No doubt advice from above was that if he said he misheard the question it wouldn’t be seen as misleading Parliament.

Mr Brooks must have known his business interests would come up, and he and his staff would have predicted what the opposition would delve into.

His use of a companyemail addressis not a good look, and trust is so important when someone is a minister.

If we can’t trust what they tell a formal committee, how can we trust anything they do.

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