Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 7 Hansard (16 June) . . Page.. 2284..
MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, do you wish to—
MR CORBELL: Well, what is your ruling, Mr Speaker?
MR SPEAKER: I was giving you the benefit of the doubt, Mr Corbell.
MR CORBELL: I am unclear as to what you are asking me to do, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: I am suggesting that you withdraw the imputation. I was going to invite you to do it rather than demand.
MR CORBELL: I am seeking clarification of your view on the point of order, Mr Speaker. But if that is your view, I withdraw the imputation. The fact is that Mr Hanson made claims that are untrue, that are fundamentally untrue. He suggested that the minister effectively instructed her department to cover up facts in an FOI release. That is the imputation that Mr Hanson made and what Mr Cormack did was draw Mr Hanson's attention to the fact that that had no basis in fact, that he found it an unfair allegation and one which reflected poorly and inappropriately on the professionalism of himself and the staff that he is administratively responsible for. How unreasonable is that? It is not, is the answer. It is not unreasonable.
Yet because Mr Hanson takes offence at someone pointing out that he was wrong, that he had got it wrong, that he made allegations that were false, he wants to set up a privileges committee. That is the force, that is the threat, that is the intimidation. In the instance when you disagree with a member of the opposition, you had better watch out because they are going to set up a privileges committee inquiry into you.
Let us remember what is being proposed here. For the first time in the history of this Assembly, it is being suggested that a senior public servant be called before a select committee on privileges because they had the temerity to suggest that factually a statement from a member of the opposition was incorrect. That is the new low, as Ms Gallagher rightly says, that the Liberal Party and the Greens are sinking to in this place today. That is why the Labor government objects most vehemently to this whole process. We object most vehemently. It was wrong to suggest the matter should be granted precedence. It is wrong to establish this committee.
There has been no breach of privilege and there is not even any suggestion of any threat, intimidation or force of any kind on the part of Mr Cormack. Yet we are going to have a senior public servant hauled over the coals because Mr Hanson does not like being told that he got it wrong. Well, grow up, Mr Hanson; grow up, Liberal Party. If you cannot cop a bit of critique of your own arguments and resort to privileges committees then you should not be in this place.
Reject the allegation. Say you think it is wrong. Demonstrate why you believe Mr Cormack is wrong and you are right. Engage in the political processes. But no, that is not what you are doing. Instead, you decide that you are going to use your powers to intimidate a public servant to threaten and force them to come before a privileges committee and answer questions about why he had the temerity to point out