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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2004) . . Page.. 2711 ..


MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Stefaniak has the floor!

MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Mr Speaker. He was briefed on 3 May by the chief executive who drew his attention to the error. After returning answers to the question on notice signed off on 5 May, there was no doubt that the minister was aware of the inaccuracies of his claims—that is, two days after the briefing on 3 May. We had sitting days again on 4 and 5 May and he failed to correct the record. He gave a partial correction on 13 May—

Mr Wood: Four months ago!

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Wood! You can make a contribution to the debate later on if you want to.

Mr Wood: Four months ago, Bill.

MR SPEAKER: Order!

MR STEFANIAK: On 13 May. We are talking about May now, Bill. However, the correction is inadequate in that it is not a full and true disclosure. It is in itself incorrect because the minister had been given the correct information on 10 February. He was warned again of the inadequacy of that response on 14 May. For each of the sitting days—25 May, 22 June and 23 June—he has continued to be in breach of his obligations to correct the record. That is a basic synopsis. The code of conduct is indeed quite clear. It says:

All ministers are to recognise the importance of full and true disclosure and accountability to the Parliament.

Being answerable to the Assembly requires Ministers to ensure that they do not wilfully mislead the Assembly in respect of their Ministerial responsibilities.

The ultimate sanction for a Minister who so misleads is to resign or be dismissed.

Ministers should take reasonable steps to ensure the factual content of statements they make in the Assembly are soundly based and that they correct any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.

I know people are being treated differently in this place with motions of no confidence. Everyone was certainly after Mrs Carnell. She was, finally, effectively the subject of a successful motion of no confidence. Most of us have been censured at some time. There are some other relevant factors here. If the minister had done nothing else wrong and this was the first time these types of actions had been drawn to the Assembly’s attention, there might well have been a case for some leniency being shown, even though there is a fairly systematic course of conduct here.

You have to take into account another factor here; that is, this is about the third time, I think, that there have been problems with this particular minister—his attitude to the Assembly and allegations of misleading et cetera—that have come to the fore. In anything like this, if the Assembly finds that there has been some improper conduct and


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