Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4248..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
actually, a very simple question asked by Mr Pratt. I am sure he could have been responded to with a very simple answer. That would have been the end of the matter.
MS DUNDAS (11.19): Mr Speaker, I put my thoughts on the record for this debate. If it does goes to a division, I would like to have the reasons why I voted the way that I did recorded.
I am not supporting this motion, for two reasons. One is whether or not I should care where the Chief Minister was on the evening on 17 January 2003. That is a question that I will actually leave to the coroner. If it is relevant to the state of emergency that faced the territory on 18 January, then I am not the person to make that decision; the coroner is the person to make that decision.
Also I cannot support this motion because I think it would be reprehensible for this Assembly to demand a location of a member of this place in this particular way. It steps over the already-grey boundaries that exist between our personal and public lives and should not be supported.
MR PRATT (11.20), in reply: Mr Speaker, I close by raising a couple of issues. Firstly, people clearly were not listening when we said that the point of asking the Chief Minister about where he was and what he was doing was indeed about his professional duties. I said twice in that presentation that if the Chief Minister had personal reasons which kept him away from doing his duties during the time that he was on watch as the acting emergencies minister then that is all he has to say. We do not want to know exactly whom he was with; we want to know whether he was with family, whether he was out with friends or whether he was with professional officers of ESB. That is all we want to know. If he was with family, then we want to know what actions he took to ensure that contingencies were in place to maintain the emergency watch while he was off duty. That was the point of the questions without notice that we asked continually.
You might say that those questions without notice-in fact, Ms Tucker also said-did not seem to have any sense of purpose. In the time-honoured tradition of asking questions without notice in this place, those questions were designed to ask the Chief Minister to absolutely provide, chapter and verse, what he was doing in terms of his duties. That was the point of those questions. I am quite surprised at the Greens' frivolous comments about the nature of those questions without notice; it just does not make any sense. The questions without notice were like all questions without notice and dorothy dixers in this place-designed to elicit the facts. They were designed to elicit the facts, but the Chief Minister of course was too shy to tell us what the facts were.
Ms Tucker has tried to defend the indefensible. She, again, demonstrates what she stands for. She likes to defend the government at all costs. Don't question the government, Ms Tucker. I think it was Ms Tucker who was incompetent in not doing her duty as a crossbencher.
Mr Quinlan makes the point: where was the opposition on the evening of the 17th? What did we do? In fact, the point is that a lot of the members of the opposition were wandering around the place, getting to high points of vantage and trying to find out what was going on. But, unlike ministers, we did not have the authority-nor did you give any authority for us-to get briefings. You had the authority to go and ask. The Chief