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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 3 Hansard (22 March) . .

Page.. 905..


stepped outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour. Bullying, cowardice and intimidation should not be accepted in any workplace, be it retail, the construction industry or, dare I say it, the city's parliament. It is quite clear that on that occasion the Chief Minister showed the true measure of the man and overreached. As yet, he has not been forthcoming with an apology or even any semblance of admission of wrongdoing. That is the reason this motion is being brought on today by the opposition, to examine those actions.

Madam Speaker, in your ruling yesterday on whether or not this matter had precedence, you noted correspondence from the chair of the standing committee in which the chair had written to you and said that the committee considered this to be an appropriate course of action and did not believe further action was desirable, given their decision to simply publish the transcripts and the advice that the committee had received on this matter.

In a committee system that is deadlocked, with two members of the government and two members of the opposition, there is very little that any member, regardless of which side of the chamber they come from, can do to address these kinds of privilege matters. The appropriate place, the appropriate venue, for it to be discussed, examined and then further referred is here in the chamber, where all 25 members of the Assembly have the opportunity to have their say, cast their vote and actually decide unequivocally what is and what is not acceptable behaviour in a parliament.

As I said, our view is that this is a very clear-cut case of an abuse of position and threats being levelled against the chair of the committee. In a unicameral parliament, when the Chief Minister of the government levels a threat of whether or not a chair will remain in their position, that is a threat that cannot be taken lightly. There is no house of review. There is no other chamber to litigate these matters through. If an individual wants to throw their weight around and use the numbers that they control in the Assembly to achieve an outcome, they can. That is why provisions like this in the standing orders exist, to ensure the safe, effective and prudent administration of the functions of the parliament. The role of the committee and the role of an opposition is to scrutinise. As uncomfortable as that may become for some individuals of the executive particularly, at various times, the role of this place is to scrutinise.

We have seen outbursts in the past week. This week we have already spent a considerable amount of time on the Chief Minister's attitude to other areas of the scrutiny establishment. Clearly he has some very firm views on that. This is another example where the scrutiny got a bit too much and the Chief Minister resorted to personal threats and attacks—behaviour, Madam Speaker, that I would characterise as purely cowardly. As I said—

Mr Barr: Point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Point of order, Chief Minister.

Mr Barr: The use of the word "cowardly" has been ruled unparliamentary on numerous occasions, Madam Speaker, and it should be withdrawn.


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