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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 2 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 490..


The Assembly voted—

Ayes 10

Noes 7

Ms Bresnan

Ms Hunter

Mr Barr

Ms Porter

Mr Coe

Ms Le Couteur

Ms Burch

Mr Stanhope

Mr Doszpot

Mr Rattenbury

Mr Corbell

Mrs Dunne

Mr Seselja

Ms Gallagher

Mr Hanson

Mr Smyth

Mr Hargreaves

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Attorney-General

Motion of serious concern

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.11): I move

That this Assembly:

(1) notes the potentially prejudicial comments made by the Attorney-General on ABC Radio and ABC TV on Tuesday, 3 February 2009, in relation to the actions of two detainees who went onto the roof at the Belconnen Remand Centre on Friday, 31 January 2009; and

(2) expresses serious concern in the Attorney for his actions in so doing.

Those of us who are elected to this place have the highest demands of good conduct placed upon us. Like Caesar's wife, our actions need to be beyond reproach. And if we make an error, it is imperative that we own up to that error and unreservedly apologise and do what we can to set matters right. It is no good to bustle about pretending that nothing has happened and hoping that people will forget about it.

We are here today because one of our number has failed to live up to these high standards and these demands. These standards were reinforced, albeit begrudgingly, by the Stanhope government. A few weeks ago the first law officer of the ACT—the Attorney-General, Simon Corbell—went out of his way to reflect upon the guilt of two men who had been charged following a well-publicised incident at the Belconnen Remand Centre on Friday, 31 January.

His comments have been construed as contempt of court and a clear breach of the separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary. In 2001 Jon Stanhope came to government with great promises for a great new era including a renewed code of conduct for ministers. After three long years, the Chief Minister finally published his much promised code of conduct, which says in its preamble:

The position of Government Minister is one of trust. A Minister has a great deal of discretionary power, being responsible for decisions which can markedly affect individuals, organisations, companies, and local communities.

Being a Minister demands the highest standards of probity, accountability, honesty, integrity and diligence in the exercise of their public duties and functions. Ministers will ensure that their conduct does not bring discredit upon the Government or the Territory.


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