Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 7 Hansard (16 June) . . Page.. 2295..
Ms Le Couteur
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (11.40): I move the following amendment circulated in my name:
Add the following paragraphs:
"(4) the Committee shall inquire into whether the claims made by the Liberal Party through Mr Hanson are true;
(5) the Committee shall report on whether the claims made by Mr Hanson malign and/or defame the Minister for Health, the Chief Executive of the Department of Health and other officers of the Department of Health; and
(6) the Committee shall provide recommendations on the provision of legal advice and support to all officers of the Department of Health defamed by the Liberal Party and Mr Hanson.".
Now that the Assembly has decided that this privileges committee should proceed with this inquiry—and that is a decision, of course, which we did not support; we have stated our reasons for not supporting it—the government believes it is only appropriate that the committee should inquire into all aspects of this particular issue. The committee should not just be focused on the allegations made in relation to the matter by the Liberal Party but it should inquire more fully into all issues of concern in relation to this episode. Most particularly, it should test the veracity of claims made by the Liberal Party in its press release. That is only reasonable.
Why would a committee of privileges created by the Assembly not look into all issues? At the heart of this issue, of course, is whether or not the claims by the Liberal Party are true. Surely, that is fundamental. You can't look at the issue of privilege or you can't look just at the response by Mr Cormack on this particular issue without first determining the truth of the claims, of the allegations, made by the Liberal Party in relation to this. It is just self-evident. It is probably so self-evident that it does not, at some levels, one would hope, need to be stated explicitly. But having regard to the political nature of these things, it is only appropriate that we state it explicitly—namely, that the committee should look to determine whether or not the claims in the press release which Mr Cormack responded to are, in fact, true.
The committee should then, of course, as part of the process of inquiring into this matter, look at whether those claims do actually impact, malign or defame the