ACT News

Andrew Barr to push ahead with reshuffle despite no outcome in Joy Burch police investigation

With no outcome in sight in the police investigation into government minister Joy Burch's office, Chief Minister Andrew Barr will push ahead with a reshuffle of his frontbench this month.

A police spokesman said this week the "assessment of information is still not complete and may take several more weeks", a delay that leaves Ms Burch and her office in limbo.

Expressions of interest: ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
Expressions of interest: ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Ms Burch resigned as police minister and took leave from the Assembly in mid-December after police launched their investigation. Her chief of staff resigned also.

While it remains unclear precisely what the police are alleging or investigating, attention has centred around a conversation chief of staff Maria Hawthorne had with union boss Dean Hall earlier this year, where she relayed details of a meeting between Ms Burch and Chief Police Officer Rudi Lammers

Mr Barr has stressed that no allegation has been made against Ms Burch herself, who resigned because she was responsible for the actions of her staff.

But the ongoing stumbles in her portfolios have left a question mark over her ministerial future. Mr Barr has foreshadowed a reshuffle of his cabinet team before the parliament sits again on February 9 to set in place the team he will lead into the October election.

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With only three backbenchers in the small parliament and one of them, Mary Porter, leaving the Assembly at a still-unspecified date before the election, Mr Barr is limited to finding ministers among his existing ministerial team plus Meegan Fitzharris and Chris Bourke. He also faces the departure of deputy, Simon Corbell, at the election and will be wanting others to take on some of Mr Corbell's senior portfolios which include health and Capital Metro.

Mr Corbell is acting Chief Minister till Mr Barr returns from leave on Monday, January 11. Ms Burch returns from leave the following week, January 18.

Mr Barr's spokesman said he was "using the summer break to consider the allocation of portfolios". It was not appropriate to make any comment on the police evaluation, but he had not received any updates, he said.

Mr Hall, ACT secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, has had no contact with police over the affair in recent weeks.

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