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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 12 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3939..


Ms Kate Carnell

MR OSBORNE (10.50): I remember my first touch - up with Kate too. It was my first budget night. It was really late and I was half asleep, when this hand came over, and I thought, "Here we go!" I looked up, and it was only the old boiler Chief Minister. I said, "It's only you. I thought my luck had changed."

Mr Speaker, I have had time over the last few months - in fact, most of the past year or two - to reflect on the former Chief Minister. I am currently reading a book called What's So Amazing About Grace. Obviously, with a title like that, you can all safely assume what type of book it is. It is a book about unconditional forgiveness and how difficult in today's world it is for people to forgive.

As I read this book and reflected on what happened to Mrs Carnell, it became increasingly clear how much un - grace - is that a word? - was shown to Mrs Carnell. I am not afraid to admit that I found sitting in judgment of her a most difficult experience. Being a person who has made many mistakes in his life and been forgiven, it is extremely difficult for me now to live with the realisation that no - one here, myself included, was brave enough to show some forgiveness towards Mrs Carnell.

The nature of modern - day politics has a strong tendency to play the man - or, in this case, the woman - instead of the ball. I appreciate that politics at times has a lot at stake. Strong passions can be aroused over issues, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I think it does us little credit to come in here and win a battle but leave our humanity in the bottom drawer back in the office.

I struggled for a long time over Mrs Carnell's role and responsibility in the redevelopment of Bruce Stadium. The more I saw the personal attacks on her from the gutter and then the sewer, the greater my difficulty in being convinced that I should be the one to cause her to resign.

I recall being at home about 18 months ago when it all started. My daughter, who is an unabashed Carnell fan, saw Mrs Carnell and me on television, and she asked what was going on. I said, "Mrs Carnell has been very naughty, darling". She pondered that for a while, and a little later in the night she said, "I think you should forgive her, Daddy."

In light of that, I would like to make some brief comments about our former Chief Minister. Behind the job there is always a person. I cannot fathom the amount of hatred against her that was so obvious during the whole situation. I may have been less than thoughtful about some of the things I said, and for that I apologise. I know we are not supposed to consider admitting having made a mistake, or to consider forgiving others who may have made mistakes, because we are politicians and to do so would make us appear weak. How sad.

The reality is that from time to time we all make mistakes. We all know that. How foolish to pretend otherwise, and equally how sad to replace an attack on the facts of an issue with an attack on the person. I saw our new Chief Minister on television tonight - I hope he never rubs me up on budget night - making the comment that he hoped Mrs Carnell would be remembered as a person who achieved a lot for this city. I would like to endorse that notion, because it contains a lot of truth.


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