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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 1995) . . Page.. 367 ..


MR BERRY: I heard, too, that Mr Humphries tried to create the impression that I was laughing at the issue. That is not uncommon for Mr Humphries. Nobody laughs about the bushfire issue, Mr Humphries. I think that it was a bit over the top to suggest those sorts of things. He also tried to insinuate that I had no feeling for Tuggeranong. That is rubbish. I was out there last night, just listening to the people complaining about Mr De Domenico. Those sorts of silly imputations are mere diversions in the debate.

The real issue here is what Mr Humphries did. He said that his own officers contacted the New South Wales EPA. But there was no political action. He then tried to divert attention by saying, “There were no Ministers in New South Wales”. But, of course, there were. The ministry was in place. There was no attempt to make political contact in New South Wales in relation to this issue - not one movement. I looked at this letter that Mr Humphries tabled today, and I thank him very much for doing that. What I was doing was looking to see whether there were any typos in there, because on the day that he wrote this letter the smoke was so thick that it is a wonder he could see the keys. I wonder whether that was really the trigger to get him to write, because that is what, in fact, occurred. It was five days later that the new, very busy Labor Minister in New South Wales wrote back. So, when you make contact, you get results.

The problem with Mr Humphries is that he made no contact with New South Wales at a political level and then he offered this weak, shallow and misleading excuse that there were no Ministers there, when he knew very well that his own Liberal counterpart was still in place in New South Wales and remained so. That is as it ought to be. There has to be a caretaker arrangement in place. All he had to do was make the political contact. Departments and bureaucracies do not evaporate as a consequence of an election, as we all know. They are still here, and they will all still be here long after many of us have gone. But the facts of the matter are that you attempted to mislead us into thinking that there was an excuse for not making political contact by saying that there was no ministry. Well, there were Ministers, and you could have made the contact. The proof of the pie is in the eating, because, when you did make contact, in five days you had a response and there was action under way. So, do not take us down that path, because it is deliberately misleading.

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I am finding this constant clawing by the Opposition really quite wearing. I am not prepared to - - -

MR BERRY: I do not think being wearing is a point of order.

Mr Humphries: Mr Berry knows that it is against standing orders, and I ask him to withdraw.

MR BERRY: Withdraw what?

MR SPEAKER: I will uphold the point of order, Mr Berry. I think it is possible to criticise what you perceive to be the Minister's lack of diligence on this matter, but I do not believe that you can accuse him of deliberately misleading the house. I would ask you to withdraw that phrase.


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