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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1105..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I must say that, if you have ever seen an understatement, that is about it—"an Opposition Leader who sometimes finds it difficult to gain traction on issues".

The absence of the shadow Treasurer is interesting. It is interesting, in the context of any debate or discussion on frugality, is it not, that the shadow Treasurer, on his taxpayer-funded, round the world trip, is today sipping tea in the Mall, waiting for the Queen to pass by on her way from Buckingham Palace.

Mr Smyth: Are we that bitter and twisted?

MR STANHOPE: I am not that bitter and twisted. In the context of the greatest junket ever—a trip by me to Nara last year, in the context of our sister city relationship, was described by the Leader of the Opposition as "the greatest junket ever"—here we have the shadow Treasurer on a $30,000, round-the-world trip not even bothering to turn up for a sitting of the Assembly and here we have the Leader of the Opposition, in the shadow Treasurer's absence, talking about fiscal responsibility. We have the shadow Treasurer on his round-the-world study tour, encompassing a whole sitting week of the Assembly, and we have the Liberal Party here talking about fiscal rectitude and responsibility.

We understand the messages being sent back from afar: "Bill, I concede defeat. It is up to you now, Bill. 'Chinese whispers, and walls have ears.' Go for it, Bill."The message from afar from Mr Mulcahy is: "Bill, it is getting worse. In the interests of the party, I will concede. You do the deed, mate, and we will be there behind you. You have the numbers."You have the numbers now, Bill. Have you got the bottle? Mr Mulcahy has delivered you the numbers, Bill. Have you got the bottle to do the right thing, not just by your party but by the community? We need a leader of the opposition that has some capacity from time to time to gain some traction. They are the messages from London.

Mr Smyth: We really are smarting, aren't we?

MR STANHOPE: I am not smarting; I just find it ironic that Mr Smyth is being required to lead the charge on issues about the budget or the midyear review in the absence of the shadow Treasurer. One is entitled to ask, "Where is the shadow Treasurer this week—a very significant week, a sitting week of the Assembly?"There is more important business to be done in London this week than there is in Canberra. We see the effect of the absence of the shadow Treasurer, the major challenger to Mr Smyth. In that absence, Mr Smyth steps into the role of shadow Treasurer. We saw his major foray yesterday into claims of a—

Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the Chief Minister has to be even vaguely relevant to the subject, which is the release of this report from Mr Costello. I know that when he is upset he has a little defence of resorting to Hall/Kinlyside and other things, but you really should bring him back to the issue.

MR SPEAKER: Relevance is a fair call, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: There is some relevance to the fact that we saw yesterday the implications of the shadow Treasurer not being here—the Leader of the Opposition

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