Feb 14, 2007

What does John Cobb really do?

What does John Cobb really do?

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

14 February 2007

John Cobb has been appointed as an Assistant Minister but he has no Ministerial responsibility and does not have to answer questions in Parliament, yet his office is being renovated and expanded at a cost of $200,000 so it’s the same size as real Ministers.

More than three weeks after being appointed as Assistant Minister for Environment and Water Resources, the Department of Environment and Water Resources has not been advised of his responsibilities.

No Department officers are reporting to John Cobb in relation to portfolio matters.

The title of Assistant Minister has been created to hide John Cobb’s demotion.

On 24 January 2007, Mr Cobb publicly stated that he has a “dream” portfolio because water will be his main responsibility, saying: "I’m very excited about water being my area of responsibility in the future”.

The Parliament is the most appropriate place for Ministers with portfolio responsibilities to be scrutinised.

Under special rules rushed through Parliament yesterday, Assistant Ministers will not have to answer questions in Parliament.

Anyone who has witnessed John Cobb’s appalling performance in Parliament will understand why the Government is desperate to shield him from scrutiny.

Despite having no Ministerial responsibility or accountability, John Cobb’s office is being expanded and refurbished so it’s as big as a real Minister’s – with extra office space usually only available to real Ministers. The renovations could cost more than $200,000 over the next three years.

This is a scandal.

John Cobb is not a real Minister and he has no portfolio responsibilities, so he should not receive the benefits of higher office.

This is an arrogant abuse of power by a government that regards parliamentary democracy as an inconvenience.