SA Premier Steven Marshall refuses to stand in front of parliamentary committee investigating Deputy Prime Minister Vickie Chapman

Prime Minister Steven Marshall says he will not face a parliamentary committee investigating his deputy Vickie Chapman’s behavior when he handled a port proposal on Kangaroo Island, even though he has been called for it.

Ms Chapman, in her role as SA’s planning minister, rejected the multi-million-dollar deep seaport project at Smith Bay in August.

It would have been used to transport plantation timber off Kangaroo Island.

The Attorney General owns property on the island and has repeatedly said she has no conflict of interest in refusing the project planning approval.

The premiere said he supported Ms Chapman “100 percent”.

“I mean, I’ll give the opposition plenty of time to ask questions. We have three days next week,” the prime minister said, referring to when parliament is sitting and the daily question time.

“There has been no bias. She has made the right decision.”

On Tuesday, the committee heard that two senior Liberals, former Prime Minister David Ridgway and Treasurer Rob Lucas, were to speak to the Prime Minister about the possible conflict of interest.

Ridgway, now the state’s general agent in London, told ABC Radio Adelaide that he had not raised concerns with Mr Marshall about Mrs Chapman’s handling of the project.

Through a statement, Rob Lucas said he has “lots of conversations” with parliamentary colleagues and the prime minister about “many different things”.

“And I suggest not ventilating them in public,” he added.

Sir. Marshall repeated that line when asked directly if the cashier had taken up the matter with him.

“I do not go into private conversations,” he said.

“I do not remember the conversations, that’s for sure.

“There has been no evidence of this kangaroo court in Parliament at all, suggesting that there would be any bias.”

A man with glasses and a white mustache on a screen
Former chairman of the SA State Planning Commission, Michael Lennon, spoke at the parliamentary inquiry into Vickie Chapman’s setback to a port on Kangaroo Island on Wednesday.(ABC News: Ben Pettitt)

The decision ‘should have been taken to the Cabinet’

Michael Lennon, who was chairman of the SA Planning Commission until March, told the committee that it was his view that the decision should have been “taken to the Cabinet”.

“My view is that it is always better for these matters to be decided by the Governor on the advice of the Cabinet.”

Sir. Lennon also recounted a conversation he had with the director of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Tony Braxton-Smith, in which the couple discussed Ms. Chapman, who potentially stated she had a conflict.

But Mr Braxton-Smith said he “cannot remember” that conversation.

“I have a skewed memory, so there may have been a conversation at some point, but I do not remember,” Mr Braxton-Smith told the committee.

“My memory is incomplete, I may not have been aware, I do not know.”

The committee resumes Friday.

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