Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1471..
Thursday, 1 April 2004
The Assembly met at 10.30 am.
MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
Motion of censure
Mrs Dunne: Mr Speaker, I read in the Canberra Times this morning that the Labor Party is contemplating moving a motion to censure me. If the government intends to do so, I would like the convention to be applied that it be brought on straight away.
MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (10.31): Mr Speaker, I am prepared to move on that. I move:
That this Assembly censure Mrs Dunne for her actions of contempt in relation to the distribution of a flyer at the Belconnen Markets.
Mr Speaker, I shall first give a broad outline of the chain of events. In October 2003, the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment accepted an inquiry into the provision of a cut-price supermarket at the Belconnen Markets. Mrs Dunne is chair of that committee.
In November 2003, Mrs Dunne circulated at the Belconnen Markets a flyer exhorting the reader to assist her in bringing Aldi, a cut-price supermarket, to the Belconnen Markets. In January 2004, the deputy chair, Mr Hargreaves, brought the matter of a conflict to the attention of the standing committee. In February 2004, a select committee on privileges was convened to examine the actions of Mrs Dunne in respect of the flyer. In March 2004, the select committee reported to the Assembly, finding that a contempt was proven. It was a serious contempt and it was accompanied by an intent to interfere with the workings of an Assembly committee.
Let me turn now to the content of that flyer, which has been the focus of that consideration. The flyer contains the words, "it seems the Markets will miss out."To quote again, "I would like to see Aldi and the Belconnen markets working well together."Another quote, "the Planning and Environment Committee, which I chair, is holding an inquiry into the decisions that have obstructed this project, threatening the long-term future of the Belconnen Markets."A further quote, "To help bring Aldi to the Markets, write to The Secretary, Planning and Environment Committee, GPO Box 1020, Canberra 2601."
These words are emotive, suggest issues which are contradictory to the terms of reference, and incite the reader to influence the inquiry by an involvement of the committee secretariat to achieve a result. The flyer compromises the perception of independence of view, the unbiased approach to the inquiry, and gives the impression