Bates' health suffered: Newman
Premier Campbell Newman says it was "with sadness" that he accepted the resignation of Arts minister Ros Bates but "her health and her family have suffered".PT2M19S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ehr2 620 349 February 15, 2013
Embattled former Newman government minister Ros Bates should have been shown the door well before her resignation from cabinet on Friday, the state Opposition said.
Premier Campbell Newman is considering a wider reshuffle as a result of the Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts Minister's departure.
Embattled former Arts Minister Ros Bates. Photo: Harrison Saragossi/File Photo
Ms Bates has been plagued with controversy since accepting her portfolio, with scandals emerging over alleged irregularities with her lobbyist contact register, the Crime and Misconduct investigation into the appointment of her son Ben Gommers to a departmental role, and links to Michael Caltabiano.
In a Friday afternoon statement, Mr Newman announced Mr Caltabiano has been sacked.
Earlier, Mr Newman praised Ms Bates as doing “an outstanding job under difficult circumstances”.
“Unfortunately the demanding role has taken a toll personally and on her health, and she had decided not to risk those issues impacting on the performance of her duties," he said.
“I commend her for her decision. She has done the right thing by her family, her constituents, and the government.”
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said she accepted Ms Bates’s reasons for her resignation and offered her best wishes that her health improve.
But Ms Palaszczuk said it was a farce that the minister had lasted so long.
‘‘The Premier should have moved to resolve this issue a long time ago by removing Ms Bates from his cabinet,’’ she said.
‘‘Twice now, the Premier’s lack of leadership has caused ministers to take the initiative and quit when it has been obvious they do not meet his own self-proclaimed standards of behaviour and administration.’’
The Opposition estimated Ms Bates spent 25 per cent of her time as a minister either on sick or recreational leave.
Ms Bates, the third minister to step down from their role in 10 months, had only recently returned to work after taking two months of sick leave.
The embattled former minister was the target of a prolonged Opposition attack this week, over her links to lobbyists, including Santo Santoro and Sallyanne Atkinson.
Ms Bates had seemingly escaped from question time unscathed; while she deflected answering questions in some cases, the Opposition also failed to land any direct hits.
Mr Newman believed Ms Bates did a ‘‘really good job’’ in Parliament this week.
“She went in there, she answered the questions, she answered the probing questions from the Opposition and I think she came up trumps,” he said.
‘‘... I think she goes now with her head up high.”
Ms Palaszczuk did not go as far as to say the Opposition could claim Ms Bates’s "scalp" but did say her team had put continual pressure on the minister over what it perceived as her failings.
“The Premier should have acted much sooner in relation to this minister,’’ she said.
‘‘Over the last two days the minister has been under pressure by Opposition questions, it’s clearly shown she was not up to the job.
"She was not across her portfolio, she did not understand the issues and she was still not providing the answers to the questions.
“Her time had come.’’
Last month, Ms Bates told reporters she “was not going anywhere”.
While last month defending taking a family holiday in December on the back of her sick leave, Ms Bates said she was the “captain of the ship and the ship still sails”.
Comment was sought from Ms Bates, but a spokeswoman said she would not be commenting on the matter.
Mr Newman said she was ‘‘naturally upset and a little bit emotional and she does want to take the pressure off her family, particularly".
‘‘The minister has conveyed to me that she has felt under a lot of pressure I think it has affected her health and her recovery from a serious illness last year and I think her family particularly has suffered as well and that is the reason she is going,'' he said.
Independent Gaven MP Alex Douglas, who left the Liberal National Party’s parliamentary ranks in November, said Ms Bates had made the right decision.
‘‘It has been a long time coming," he said.
"It is always sad when people resign, mainly for all the people who supported them and feel let down by what happened, and there will be plenty of them in this case."
‘‘For Ros, I wish her better days ahead, personally, but for the government, this is only the beginning. They set the agenda for exactly what they are experiencing when they decided to give up on ethics last year.
‘‘I think this was all part of a broader policy of ‘anything goes and that we are brighter than everybody else, you can’t touch us, the Premier is an emperor, he has absolute power and by default we are all untouchable’.’’
Mr Douglas said Mr Newman should have removed Ms Bates from the portfolio earlier, to save her from the events of the past few months.
“I think the Premier ought to be ashamed of himself and any colleagues who supported this nonsense,” he said.
- with Tony Moore and AAP