PREMIER Ted Baillieu’s most senior adviser, Tony Nutt, has been dragged into the Peter Slipper sex scandal and faces damaging questions over his knowledge of the Speaker’s previous indiscretions. A former chief of staff to former prime minister John Howard, Mr Nutt is accused of trying to hush up sexual harassment allegations involving Mr Slipper dating to 2003.
By mentioning Tony Nutt and including “The Government” in his court papers, James Ashby has opened a very large can of worms.
Occupational Health and Safety Legislation is a wide-ranging set of laws and often ropes in entire organisations should a fault be found.
Tony Nutt was employed by Prime Minister John Howard. As the Head of the Government, not only is there upwards responsibility, there is also downwards responsibility. Governments, under the Cabinet System, have a collective responsibility.
I used the “R” word three times because it also translates into “Liability”!
Over the past few decades a fiction of “plausible deniability” has evolved within many organisations. OH&S legislation cuts through this legal fiction and flings blame like excrement hitting the fan blades and spattering stray bystanders.
Through Tony Nutt, the blame James Ashby wishes to land on “The Government” will land on a number of individuals. Initially on John Howard and the systems he and his parliamentary colleagues set up but then onto the rest of the Cabinet of the day. Among those with brown stuff splattered all over them will be a number of members of the current opposition front bench. Along with Members of the Opposition on the back benches.
Should the calls for The Speaker of the House to step aside be upheld, then it would be expected that others will also be called on to step aside as they are all liable for the system which allowed this “plausible deniabilty” to occur.
Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Warren Truss and Bronwyn Bishop, amongst others, are those directly implicated in liability for any OH&S transgressions.
They must also be held to account and should be stood down by the Parliament until these matters are resolved.