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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 7 April 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1501 ..

This is the nonsense we have been discussing this morning: an absurd motion that suggests that, because Mr Corbell had a conversation about the constitution of a committee, he should resign or be sacked as Minister for Health; a proposal put directly and bluntly by Mrs Dunne that Dr Foskey should be sent to jail and a suggestion that, because Ms MacDonald had a discussion with me about her desire to be chair of this committee—we are now assuming that at no stage does the Liberal Party ever discuss who amongst their members might constitute the membership of a committee—she somehow was seeking a benefit from me. Ms MacDonald might need to join Dr Foskey in jail. This is the nonsense we are discussing here. I cannot believe that a mature party, an opposition with pretensions to be the next government of the ACT, would come into this place and waste our time with this childish, absurd nonsense. It is a complete waste of all our time.

As both Dr Foskey and Mr Corbell have said, it reflects a culture that exists within and is obviously part of this opposition’s view of its role within this place. It is about personal politics. It is about a nasty, vindictive personal approach to its role as opposition. One can reflect on why the opposition has taken that approach in this place. It is very much to do with its standing within the community and the extent to which the people of Canberra have walked away from this opposition.

As a final point, one is entitled to ask: on what basis did Mrs Dunne approach Dr Foskey in the first place to discuss the committee? What was it that Mrs Dunne was going to say to Dr Foskey? Was she going to say; “Look, Dr Foskey, I want to talk about the committee. But let me be absolutely clear at the outset that under no circumstances will I be suggesting that I want you to vote in a certain way or behave in a certain way. We will not under any circumstances be asking you, when the committee is constituted as, say, two Labor, two Liberal and one Greens, for your vote in return for chairing the committee. Now, please understand this. Before I have a conversation with you, Dr Foskey, let me make it clear we will not be asking for your vote. We will not ask for your vote, Dr Foskey. Be clear about that.” What was the conversation to be about?

More to the point in relation to this absurd nonsense, the Labor Party had considered that appropriate membership of the committee might be three members of the government and two members of the opposition. We do have majority government. We could have insisted—we could easily still insist—on a 3:2 membership. We could easily have done that then. We could easily do it now. There is no benefit to the government in this. It was simply that Dr Foskey, through a very strong desire to be involved in the work of the Assembly, had a strong interest in being a member of the committee, and the government responded to that.

To suggest that Dr Foskey sought some personal benefit or that a personal inducement was offered is patent nonsense designed, as Mr Corbell in particular has said, to vilify members of the government, and in this instance Dr Foskey, in a very personal, vindictive, nasty and, I might say, poisonous way. The opposition really is slinking, sliding and slipping into the gutter as the weeks pass. This is an absurd motion, and I move:

That the question be now put.

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