Your resignation is demanded forthwith: An open letter to Sussan Ley

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Sussan Ley (image via abc.net.au).

Graham Houghton does what Turnbull should have done and demands the resignation of Sussan Ley in an open letter.


I’ve just heard you’ve stood aside from the ministry while your affairs in office are being investigated. 

As I went to some trouble to craft this piece, I will submit it anyway. It may make other ministers think carefully about their own behaviour, past and present; although given the track record of politicians, I have to say, I’m not very hopeful of that.

I expect that you’re slightly surprised that I haven’t addressed you in the title of this short letter as "Honourable". I don’t think any explanation as to why I haven’t is necessary.

Neither am I going to thank you personally or on behalf of anyone else, for returning the taxpayers’ money you "erroneously claimed" – some might say "stole" – nor for the wholly inadequate apology you have offered. Could you clarify precisely what you mean by "erroneous"? Because it contradicts another statement of yours that all your claims for taxpayers’ money were within the guidelines

So, what is it, Sussan? An honest mistake? Or a deceit which by its very nature is contrived and deliberate? (The Oxford Dictionary definition of contrived is 'created or arranged in a way that seems artificial and unrealistic'.) Now I accept that, by your own admission, you act on impulse occasionally — behaviour which I regard as somewhat immature and quite worrying for a minister of the Crown. (Some have said that "the grown-ups" were in charge after a fairly recent election result was declared). But that aside, if it was a contrived deceit it would appear it went so far as to planning what you would say if you were caught out attempting to "erroneously claim" taxpayers’ money. 

It was, therefore, also premeditated, which the Oxford Dictionary defines thus:

'Think out or plan (an action, especially a crime) beforehand.'

It would also appear that, according to your own admission, this not the first time you’ve "erroneously claimed" taxpayers’ money, as you have agreed to pay back other monies claimed for previous trips to Queensland and for fines to be applied to your "mistaken conduct". 

And before you get all litigious over the word "steal", a word that some might use to describe serial "erroneous claims" on the public purse, the Oxford Dictionary definition of the word is:

'Take (another person's property) without permission or legal right ... obtain surreptitiously or by surprise (stole a kiss) ... gain insidiously or artfully.'

Now, when you use the word "erroneously", are you using it in the same way that people who have lied do when they claim they "misspoke"? Perhaps you might like to consider manufacturing another term for your behaviour: "misclaimed", perhaps? 

When you accepted the privilege of serving as a minister in the Australian Parliament, you will have – or should have – taken either an oath or an affirmation which includes the words:

"... I will well and truly serve the people of Australia ..."

 The Oxford Dictionary definition of "truly" includes the words sincerely, genuinely and loyally. Can you genuinely put your hand on your heart and tell the people of Australia that you have fulfilled your oath to them? It would appear not, because you yourself have acknowledged that Prime Minister Turnbull has agreed, presumably with you, that your conduct falls short of the expected standards of ministerial behaviour. 

In short, you have failed the people of Australia and should resign. If any son or daughter of mine had behaved in public office the way you appear to have (together with others before you) I would disown them. As you are not, thankfully, my daughter, I will instead, as your employer, do something my senior employee, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, should have already done: demand your resignation from the ministry forthwith. Anyone with ethics and a conscience would already have done so.


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