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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2116..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

about Mr Corbell and Ms Gallagher, because honour and integrity are unknown to them. We have seen the way that these people behave.

Mr Corbell: On a point of order: I know that this is a substantive motion asking for me and Ms Gallagher to resign, but I do not think it gives Mrs Dunne free licence to accuse us of being without honour or integrity. I think that is a reflection on me. It is one that I take seriously. At no point does the substantive motion before us make the claim or argue that we should resign because we are without honour or integrity. It is a very long bow to draw. I find it offensive and I ask Mrs Dunne to withdraw those words.

MRS DUNNE: On the point of order: this is a substantive motion about a member's capacity to hold office as a minister, and that goes directly to honour and integrity. All of the matters raised in this place this morning are about honour and integrity.

Mr Smyth: On the point of order: the Chief Minister just spent four or five minutes questioning the integrity of the Leader of the Opposition-that he said one thing in private and one thing in public. That questions his integrity. If this is acceded to, of course the Chief Minister will apologise for all that he has said. It is quite the tradition that in a wide-ranging debate like this, people speak clearly about what they are saying. This is about integrity and honour.

MR SPEAKER: This is one of the most serious motions that we ever deal with, and these sorts of motions are always dealt with in a substantive way. Often the character of members involved is challenged by these motions. Regrettable though that might be, I think it is in order. I remind members that the tone of some things said in these debates often does not contribute to order in the place, so they should direct their comments through me.

MRS DUNNE: When the Chief Minister introduced his ministerial code of conduct he spoke about rigour in cabinet, about fairness and openness, and that the government will not at any stage back away from the code when it suits. Well, it suited the Chief Minister a couple of weeks ago to back away from the code when his two most senior ministers breached that code of practice in a very public way. The code of practice requires that decisions on cabinet are binding on members individually, and they must publicly support them. If they cannot publicly support them, they must resign. These two ministers were among a whole host of people who did not support the government's proposal on the school closure consultation process. This is what brought it about, but it is not the issue today. I understand from the media reports and the reports that one hears that that was a very fiery debate. On that occasion these ministers did not speak but they voted against the cabinet decision.

That immediately brings into question the issue of cabinet solidarity and whether they are subject to the code. They are subject to the code but it was not convenient for the Chief Minister to apply that code, against his own undertakings. The government will not back away from the code when it suits. It is very inconvenient for the Chief Minister to call for these ministers to resign, first of all, because the factions would be unhappy and, secondly, because there is no-one in this place with the capacity to replace them. He is afraid to call upon these ministers to resign, as he should. He should not have to call upon them to resign-they should have the honour and integrity to do it themselves.


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