Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister Chansey Paech has rejected calls for his resignation after it was revealed he held shares in a company that distributes alcohol in Alice Springs.
Mr Paech, who is also the Attorney-General, was a driving force behind the Northern Territory Government’s decision not to extend alcohol restrictions in Aboriginal town camps when Intervention-era bans expired in July 2022.
On Tuesday the NT Independent revealed Mr Paech had purchased shares in a liquor wholesale company Metcash in May 2022.
Mr Paech divested the shares in December last year, at the same time former Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles resigned after she failed to declare shares she held in a mining company.
Opposition and crossbench MPs have called for Mr Paech to resign.
“Chansey Paech needs to go, he needs to go today, his behaviour is inexplicable and unacceptable,” Independent MLA Robyn Lambley said.
Shadow Indigenous affairs minister Jacinta Price said Mr Paech should resign from the ministry and the parliament.
“The day the alcohol bans were lifted is the same day a mother and her baby were shot and killed,” she said.
“The Deputy Chief Minister’s conduct is utterly reprehensible, as far as I am concerned, he has blood on his hands.”
But Mr Paech said he would not be resigning.
He said he had followed all the rules regarding members of parliament declaring their conflicts of interest.
“I want to be really clear, I absolutely have always disclosed potential, possible and real conflicts with my colleagues at all levels, whether it’s on the floor of parliament, whether it is part of the cabinet processes … or whether it is meeting with stakeholders across the Northern Territory,” he said.
“I sold all of my shares last year when I took on the role of deputy chief minister to ensure that any possible, perceived or real conflict could be avoided in the interest of being open and transparent.”
The Ministerial Code of Conduct requires cabinet members to disclose any potential conflict of interest before matters are discussed in cabinet.
When Chief Minister Eva Lawler was asked on Tuesday morning if Mr Paech had declared a conflict of interest when cabinet discussed lifting the alcohol bans, she said: “No, I did not ever hear him say that.”
Asked about the Chief Minister’s comments Mr Paech said: “I acknowledge the Chief Minister’s comments and I acknowledge that this is a decision that was made some time ago. Twenty four hours is a long time in Northern Territory politics. I have always declared conflicts of interest of any nature and I will continue to do so.”
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