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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 May 1995) . . Page.. 527 ..


The message that our Chief Minister is giving is one that says, “I will not take the high moral ground here. I will not take my ministry above the realm of others”. She is refusing to face her responsibility as a leader in this community. She is our Chief Minister. These are our Ministers. It does not matter what the allegation is. It does not matter whether there is one or 500.

We are demeaning the processes of the Human Rights Office by saying that these things are not important. It is the perception of the thing that matters, not the detail. The Minister may well be exonerated in the end, and I hope that he is. That is not the point. The point is that this is a formal process that has begun. This is a formal process that began when the Government began. The Chief Minister had it within her power on day one of the Government to call a special inquiry, to show leadership, to show to the people of Canberra that human rights commissions matter, that the people who put allegations before the Human Rights Office matter and that Ministers, most of all - unfortunately for all concerned because, God help us, we have all done things that we would prefer not to become public - carry a level of public responsibility which is unlike any other. When you take the oath of office, that is what you take on and must understand. We are all vulnerable - there is no question of that - but here we have a question of leadership, a question of standards, a question of perception and a question of saying to the women of Canberra, “If there is only one it does not matter” - which unfortunately is the message we are getting over and over again - “Of course, if there were 250 it would be different”. What an absolute nonsense! This person has made a formal allegation. There is a formal process before us. We are a formal Assembly with a Chief Minister and Ministers with responsibility. There should be some acceptance of that, with the pain that goes with it.

Some leadership should be shown and perhaps a special inquiry conducted so that the matter is expedited. I find an absolute nonsense all those arguments that it is going to take months and months. We have a Chief Minister. She is in charge of these things. What did Mr Fahey do? He got an inquiry going and got the matter out of the way - end of story. That is within the power of the Chief Minister, and I think it is about time some leadership was shown and some seriousness was given to what we are actually talking about - not to the frivolous detail of it all, which is irrelevant. There is a formal allegation, a formal inquiry. We have a Chief Minister, four Ministers and a government, and it is about time they behaved like a government.

MR HIRD (11.35): I would like to draw the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to a statement she made on 12 April 1994 in this place. I quote from page 549 of Hansard:

Madam Speaker, the motion of no confidence in Minister Berry that we are debating today quite clearly seeks to pre-empt the inquiry into the circumstances of the VITAB contract that is now being conducted by Professor Pearce. I agree that it is a matter for the Assembly to determine whether it has been misled; but it is quite another matter to maintain, as the Liberals are doing, that the Assembly should reach a decision on the issue before all the facts are available to it. I believe that that is what is occurring this afternoon. It has certainly been the thrust of the arguments put ...


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