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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 3480..


MS HUNTER (continuing):

committee's finding, it seems that this approach would go some way to allaying the concerns that public and fellow Assembly members have around the ministers establishing and enforcing their own code of conduct.

Mr Doszpot's MPI today has raised the issue of the importance of a code of conduct, but unless we have something that has been agreed, cannot be ignored or interpreted loosely and is enforced by an independent personal body, it does little to allay the public perception that honesty and ethics are of little concern to ministers and, indeed, to Assembly members. Let us never forget that the primary duty of elected members is to act in the interests of the people of the ACT.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3.46): It is disappointing that Minister Barr has not come down to engage in this debate. Perhaps it is because he does not want to try to defend the indefensible, because what we heard from Mr Doszpot in relation to Mr Barr's behaviour is disgraceful. It should not be left just hanging out there.

Mr Barr should come and defend why he chose to act in such an inappropriate and misleading manner in writing to independent schools about what Mr Doszpot allegedly said but did not say. It is a disgraceful exercise for a minister who has proven himself to be all about petty games and stunts. But in this case he has acted completely without any sense of honour or decency.

The ministerial code of conduct is very clear. It states that ministers will ensure that their conduct does not bring discredit on the government or the territory. He did not match that one. There are too many examples of this being breached to bear contemplation, but let us look at some of them.

The code of conduct also states:

Ministers will treat other Members of the Legislative Assembly, members of the public and other officials honestly and fairly ...

"Honestly and fairly"are the basic standards that we expect from our ministers. As Ms Gallagher rightly pointed out, these are not novel concepts; these are concepts that we would ordinarily expect regardless of whether they are in the code of conduct. But they are written here in a code of conduct, and then we have the performance of Minister Barr.

The facts of this are that Mr Doszpot on 25 June expressed concern that the Shaddock review excluded non-government schools and stated:

The ACT Education Act 2004 clearly states that education should aim to develop every child's potential and maximise educational achievements. This would also apply to non-government students. The ACT Human Rights Act 2004 also applies to all students with a disability.

That was what Mr Doszpot had to say, and this is what Mr Barr said in a letter to the NGSEC:


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