The SA Opposition says it is “completely untenable” for ex-Liberal MP Fraser Ellis to remain on a parliamentary committee tasked with looking into alleged corruption in Aboriginal organisations at the same time as he faces deception charges.

Key points:

  • Mr Ellis has vehemently denied the allegations against him
  • Labor says he should stand down from parliamentary committees while the matter is ongoing
  • The Government says it is up to Parliament, not the party, to make such determinations

Mr Ellis this week revealed during a late-night sitting of Parliament he had been charged with offences arising from an investigation by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC).

The Member for Narungga has strenuously denied the allegations, insisting he has “never acted dishonestly” and his “conscience is clear”.

“I am completely innocent and I will be vigorously defending these allegations to the full extent of my resources and the law,” he told Parliament.

Anti-corruption commissioner Ann Vanstone QC said it would be alleged Mr Ellis made 78 fraudulent claims for the Country Members’ Accommodation Allowance.

The ICAC probe was sparked by a series of exclusive stories by the ABC that raised questions about the use of the scheme by several MPs.

Ms Vanstone said Mr Ellis had been charged with 23 counts of deception.

Anti-corruption commissioner Ann Vanstone says Mr Ellis has been charged with 23 counts of deception.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

Mr Ellis told Parliament he had suspended his Liberal Party membership and would sit “on the crossbench while attempts are made to prove these disputed allegations”.

Today, Labor’s Aboriginal Affairs spokesman, Kyam Maher, called on the Government to remove him from the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, which is currently conducting an inquiry into Aboriginal governance.

Mr Maher is opposed to the inquiry, saying a “significant number” of Aboriginal leaders have expressed concern because there are “no similar calls” to examine the conduct of “non-Aboriginal organisations”.

“The committee has been requested by Steven Marshall … to conduct an inquiry into maladministration or corruption in Aboriginal organisations.

“Someone facing 23 charges before the courts cannot sit on a committee that the Premier has charged with looking into corruption.”

Kyam Maher called for Fraser Ellis’s removal from the committee.(ABC News)

A spokesperson for the State Government said it was not up to the Premier, but Parliament, to make decisions about the membership of parliamentary committees.

“If a vacancy is created due to the resignation of a member of Parliament — there is a process of replacing that member, handled by the Parliament.”