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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 7 Hansard (16 June) . . Page.. 2298..


MS BRESNAN (continuing):

is that the Speaker made a ruling on this and sought objective advice in making his ruling—which Mr Corbell made an unwarranted and politicised attack on, I have to say. That is why we will not be supporting Mr Stanhope's amendment.

Question put:

That Mr Stanhope's amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 7

Noes 10

Mr Barr

Ms Porter

Ms Bresnan

Ms Hunter

Ms Burch

Mr Stanhope

Mr Coe

Ms Le Couteur

Mr Corbell

Mr Doszpot

Mr Rattenbury

Ms Gallagher

Mrs Dunne

Mr Seselja

Mr Hargreaves

Mr Hanson

Mr Smyth

Question so resolved in the negative.

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question is that Mr Hanson's motion, as amended, be agreed to.

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (11.54): This does go to the heart of the Westminster system and who is accountable for their department. With respect to my press release—this one is an example; I have put 57 others out—and the press releases put out by my colleagues, those on the crossbench and, indeed, by members of the Labor Party when they are in opposition, the criticisms that we make of the areas of responsibility of ministers are rightly for the ministers to account for and to respond to. Be it a criticism I may have made of the Minister for Corrections about the Belconnen Remand Centre or the Alexander Maconochie Centre, in every instance, it was he that responded, and so on. That is the normal form of practice that would occur in this place.

The appropriate response, if the minister disputed elements of my press release and felt that it was untrue or she disagreed with it and had those discussions with her chief executive, would have been for her to respond to me in kind, as the minister in response to a shadow minister, to a non-executive member of this place. It is not appropriate, in my view, for a letter then to be provided to me, in response to criticisms that I have clearly made of a minister in a public forum, from a departmental official in relation to that. I refer in particular to the way in which that letter, in my view, was constructed and the issues surrounding it. The letter that was provided to me clearly intimated a precursor to defamation action. That is certainly the way that I interpreted it, and certainly that is how it has been interpreted by others. Indeed, the Chief Minister has actually confirmed that that was the threat with which I was faced by receiving that letter, because he has said—

Mr Stanhope: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker: just so as not to malign or misunderstand this, with respect to interjections and comments that I have made in relation to defamation, I believe that the claims made by the Liberal Party are clearly defamatory.


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