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Labor says leaking Liberal candidate’s job application is in the ‘public interest’

The Malinauskas Government “makes no apology” for leaking a private job application Dunstan Liberal Party candidate Anna Finizio sent to Labor’s then shadow attorney-general Kyam Maher in 2020, as it continues the attack in an increasingly bitter by-election battle.

Mar 01, 2024, updated Mar 03, 2024
Labor has launched a fresh attack on the Liberal Party's Dunstan candidate, leaking a job application she sent to a Labor MP in 2020.

Labor has launched a fresh attack on the Liberal Party's Dunstan candidate, leaking a job application she sent to a Labor MP in 2020.

A government spokesperson today denied that Maher, now Attorney-General, or anyone in his office leaked Finizio’s January 2020 job application to the media – despite the emailed job application being sent to Maher’s office.

Finizio, a former lawyer who is contesting the Dunstan by-election for the Liberal Party, applied to work in Maher’s office as an adviser in January 2020.

Her job application was leaked to The Advertiser for its front page story headlined: “DUNCE-TAN POLL PICK”.

Maher’s office did not answer several questions sent by InDaily today, including whether it would launch an investigation into the leak or how a job application sent to his office was made public.

Questions sent by InDaily to Attorney-General Kyam Maher’s office today.

“Neither the Attorney-General nor his staff provided this application to the media,” a government spokesperson said before referring questions to Koutsantonis.

Koutsantonis – who led an attack on Finizio this week for her involvement in a business that later went into administration and called for an ASIC investigation – said on Friday morning that Finizio’s leaked job application “has obviously come from our side of politics – of course it has”.

Asked whether it came from his office or Maher’s office, Koutsantonis said: “The Labor Party makes no apology for this whatsoever. Zero.”

Asked if the government would launch an investigation into the leaking of private information into the public sphere, Koutsantonis said: “No, because it’s in the public interest that this be out.”

He also denied that the leak constituted a breach of privacy, arguing the position Finizio was applying for was a “political appointment”.

“This is an application to work for a Member of Parliament,” he said.

“This is not a Public Sector Management Act appointment.

“It’s obvious. It’s clear. This is not the same as someone applying to work in the public sector. This is a political application.”

Koutsantonis said the revelation that Finizio wanted to work for a Labor MP “speaks volumes about her authenticity”.

“The idea that a Liberal candidate in a by-election touts her business acumen, then hides her business acumen, touts herself as a local in the eastern suburbs yet two years ago was telling everyone in the western suburbs she’s one of them,” he said.

“Now we find out she wants to work for her political opponents. There’s a pattern here, and that pattern quite frankly is devastating.

“No amount of questioning about where this came from changes the fact that Ms Finizio has kept all of this secret – all of it.

“Why did she keep it secret? Because she knows it’s embarrassing.”

The Liberal Party argued that Finizio’s application for a position in Maher’s office was akin to Opposition leader David Speirs working as a public servant for the Department of Premier and Cabinet during the Rann and Weatherill years.

Finizio defended her application to work for a Labor MP and said she was “proud of my career and how it has led me to this incredible opportunity”.

“As a passionate advocate for quality public policy, I’ve always searched for ways to contribute to positive outcomes for the community,” she said in a statement.

“I applied for the position in the hopes of doing just that, building on my work as a Policy Lawyer for the Law Society of SA.

“Once again the Labor Party has shown that it’s more interested in politics than delivering positive results.”

The Liberal Party also criticised the government for releasing Finizio’s job application publicly.

“What we now know is that anyone that has or will apply for any role with the Labor Government in the future can expect to have those details and that correspondence publicly revealed,” a party spokesperson said.

“Releasing this information reflects on those responsible and South Australians will have no trouble in recognising this for what it is.”

Labor’s attck on Finizio came after the Liberal Party raised questions in parliament last week over Labor’s Dunstan candidate Cressida O’Hanlon.

The Opposition tabled an email O’Hanlon received from her husband, James O’Hanlon, the director of a defence advisory firm, asking for a meeting with a government minister or chief of staff to discuss a foreign aid proposal.

The Opposition said neither the firm nor James O’Hanlon appear to be on the registered lobbyist list and raised questions about whether this would constitute a breach of the Lobbyists Act.

Labor says the firm does not engage in lobbying.

Asked today if he thought eastern suburbs residents were tired of the political parties “mudslinging”, Koutsantonis said: “I don’t think telling the truth is mudslinging.”

“I don’t think being open or honest is mudslinging. I think it’s common courtesy,” he said.

“Knowing who you vote for is the highest form of respect. And when you don’t tell people who you are, and when you don’t tell people what you believe, and you don’t show authenticity then you’re paying the people of Dunstan a disservice.”

The Dunstan by-election is on March 23. Candidate nominations closed at midday today.

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