Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has referred text message communications allegedly between Member for Blain Mark Turner and a private citizen to the NT Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) (ICAC).
“Yesterday, I finally received and viewed text messages which have been the subject of media reporting, showing text conversations which are alleged to have been exchanged between the Member for Blain and a private citizen last year,” Mr Gunner said in a statement.
“I have subsequently provided these to the ICAC for their review.”
Text messages alleged to be published in the NT News on Friday between Mr Turner, a former police officer, and the private citizen involved the private citizen’s discussion of cocaine use.
At a press conference on Sunday, Mr. Gunner discussed the text messages, but the Chief Minister’s Office said that he had not viewed the text messages at the time of the press conference.
At the press conference, however, Mr Gunner proposed that Mr Turner should have acted if he had been told about the use of illicit drugs.
“I believe, being a former police officer, there was no one in a better position to know how to handle that information, and there was no one who knew better how to put that forward appropriately to the police,” Mr Gunner said.
Mr. Turner was removed from the caucus, and in the midst of a growing controversy linked to his activity with the private citizen, another Labor employee resigned.
Mr Turner confessed to an improper relationship with a “private citizen” that was “too intimate” in an address to parliament last Wednesday.
But on Thursday Mr Gunner said in a statement the Member for Blain was removed from his parliamentary team because he had “continued to act dishonestly about his relationships and interactions with others”.
There’s no evidence that Mr. Turner or the former employee used cocaine.
The Chief Minister claimed at Sunday’s press conference that he remained unaware of evidence showing or indicating that Mr. Turner or the former employee had taken part in any criminal activity.
Other text messages also recorded to the private citizen from Mr Turner suggested that he be advised on how to handle her public statements on their relationship.
The office of Mr. Gunner confirmed that these reported text messages were not delivered to ICAC, and Mr. Gunner rejected any suggestion in a statement on Sunday morning that his team had advised Mr. Turner on how to cover up information.
Mr Gunner said he would officially write to the NT Labor Party to request that the party status of Mr Turner be checked.