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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3430..


Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I have to interrupt Mr Berry's point of order. What he is doing is reiterating information about a particular case which he alleges proves a particular conflict of interest.

MR BERRY: No.

Mr Humphries: That is what he is doing. He is trying to prove that there is a conflict of interest on Mrs Carnell's part. The motion, first of all, is not dependent on proving any particular conflict of interest on anybody's part in order to be passed. Secondly, Mr Kaine is right: Mr Berry is imputing an improper motive to Mrs Carnell in her relationship with the pharmacy she owns at Red Hill. To impute improper motives is contrary to standing orders, and Mr Berry should be asked to withdraw.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I will put it this way, and it might clarify the matter. I think the code of practice that is adopted by the Executive is inadequate, and this inquiry should come up with a code of practice that covers the situation and ensures that people cannot be seen to have a conflict of interest out there in the community, which Mrs Carnell clearly is seen to have now.

MR SPEAKER: Order! I have listened carefully to the views put forward. I too have been concerned, listening to this debate, that standing order 55 may have been breached. I uphold Mr Kaine's point of order. I do not think anybody in this chamber is arguing against the proposal before the house, which is to set up a code of conduct; but I must agree with Mr Kaine that, in debating this, we should not be making allegations and accusations against individual members. Let us keep it general, Mr Berry. I do not think anybody is going to be arguing about the establishment of the committee. Surely, the purpose of setting up the committee is to examine individual activities. We should not be prejudging people before the code of conduct has been investigated. Would you please direct your comments to a general discussion on your motion and not breach standing order 55.

MR BERRY: Indeed, Mr Speaker. If members of this Assembly were advertising a product which they were retailing from premises they owned, and advertising the fact that they were in a profession of the sort that was marketing the product and attaching to it the fact that they were members of this Legislative Assembly, and in fact were members of the Executive and Ministers responsible for that particular area of the Executive's role in government, then I would say that there is a conflict of interest. There should be a set of rules which ensure that a decision of a conflict of interest could be found. I think that satisfactorily covers the issue.

The other area is gifts. That is an issue that is well understood. The taking of gifts for carrying out one's role in this Assembly and how that ought to be dealt with is something that ought to be addressed by this inquiry as well. As to the use of public office, who will forget the accusations, at least, about a member, Mr Stevenson, taking up residence in the Assembly for a period of time? Mind you, he was a bit of a will-o'-the-wisp when it came to trying to prove that this occurred. Whilst the bed might have been warm, it was pretty often made up; but it was, nevertheless, a use of public office that may well have brought some sort of charge of questionable behaviour before the Assembly. (Extension of time granted)


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