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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 3292..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

that game, although it was not much of a pleasure seeing them lose. I would like to extend to them my very best wishes for that grand final against their old enemies, the Queanbeyan Blues.

Earlier today we talked a bit about traditions, with Greenwich Mean Time going and universal time coming in. One thing worried me. My mind was jogged on this when Mr Stanhope and Mr Smyth were talking about Simpson and his donkey, and a little bit of historical correction there. I know that we do not have the Victoria Cross any more. I thought that it was replaced by the Star of Courage, but I always thought that "Victoria Cross"had a much nicer ring to it. Just going through the stuff Mr Smyth had on Simpson and his donkey-and I certainly hope this is right-I was delighted to learn that a Victoria Cross for Australia was established on 15 January 1991. It is the highest Australian operational gallantry award and supersedes but is physically identical to the Victoria Cross instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856.

To date, no Victoria Cross for Australia has ever been awarded. In a way, one might hope that they will not need to be awarded. That would mean we would be living in a much more peaceful world, but only time will tell. It can only be awarded for the most conspicuous gallantry, daring or pre-eminent act of valour, self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. Throughout history, of course, Australian soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen have performed brilliantly and on many occasions have won a Victoria Cross. It is probably relevant to note that, as we recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II and victory in the Pacific.

Leader of the Opposition

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (5.53), in reply: In the adjournment debate this evening Mr Smyth responded to some criticisms I made of him in the adjournment debate last night. I think that, in all of his commentary, Mr Smyth has ignored one very basic fact-that, as leader of the opposition and, indeed, as a shadow minister in this place, you certainly do have the right to ask, and test, the government on issues of policy and administration of the territory but you also have some obligations. One of those obligations is to ensure that, when you exercise that right, you do so in a way that is in some way tested, that in some way has some substance to it.

In raising matters in question time you put the allegation on the public record. If you make an allegation without in any way having checked it, then you give it a credence it would not otherwise have if even the basic modicum of investigation had been undertaken. That is what happened yesterday and that is what happened earlier this year in relation to the claims Mr Stefaniak made about problems with our water supply and infection in our water supply.

These are serious allegations. I have no difficulty with serious allegations being made in this place if there is a reasonable level of confidence that there is some truth in the assertions. The reality is that there is no truth in the assertions. To suggest that Canberra's water supply is in some way affected and to be advised down the track that one person has got sick, in a way that can be identified from a private swimming pool, is not exactly the same as suggesting that Canberra's water supply is under threat.


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