Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4913..
MRS DUNNE (10.27): Mr Speaker, I rise in this adjournment debate to make not so much a personal explanation but to explain "personal". I would like to start by quoting the Chief Minister, who said, yesterday I think, about something that I had raised:
... this juvenile questioning of a technical detail in a major draft strategy really is an attempt ... to attack me as the minister.
On the same day, the Chief Minister said:
... I think that most of us have noticed in recent times about the incredibly personal and nasty politics that emanate from Mrs Dunne. I think she certainly has achieved a very certain reputation in this place ...
He went on:
... there is a source of poison in this place and it is Mrs Dunne. It needs to be said; we all know it. I think we are all just a little tired of the constant, personal, nasty attacks that are just part and parcel of every commentary she makes.
I thought that that was pretty rich, coming from someone who dishes it up so expertly as he did the other day when he was forced to withdraw a personal attack in which he used the words: "You just have a slight conflict of interest as an exploitative employer, I think, Mrs Burke,"or his infamous and shameful "mole"attack on Mr Pratt.
One might think that I might take exception to being described as a source of poison, and one might protest-or one might do as I did and conclude that that sort of thing says more about the accuser than the accused and leave the listeners and the readers to draw their own conclusions. Alternatively, I suppose, one might take the view that comments like this are part and parcel of debate, but it would be a shame if people did think that and it would not help the reputation of the Legislative Assembly in the eyes of the average Canberra resident.
What you cannot do, though-not if you want to retain any shred of credibility-is criticise others in these terms and then get precious about any criticism that comes back. It is not just a matter of being able to dish it out but not being able to take it, although this does apply.
There is an assumption here that any criticism is necessarily personal and thus unfair. It is a variant on the famous dictum of Louis XIV, "L'etat c'est moi"-I am the state-"Anyone who criticises my government criticises me personally."The Chief Minister has been accusing me of personal attacks since before the election when I letterboxed his street with a pamphlet criticising the now defunct proposed route of the GDE, which ran close by.
Mr Corbell says things like: "Mrs Dunne is quite gleeful in her continuing personal attacks on me."This was in relation to an inquiry about whey he had delayed in providing answers to questions. Well, there is a bit of a shock here, because from time to time ministers and governments will be criticised by the opposition. Ministers and