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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 November 2005) . . Page.. 4503 ..


I do not think the Chief Minister is doing us any good whatsoever by his preoccupation with so many things. He attempted to twist what I said about whaling. My point of illustrating that was that he is so inconsistent that, on one hand, he wants to be an expert and then, when he goes to Japan and they ask him to help, he comes out and criticises Ian Campbell and says that he is not doing enough on the issue.

As Mr Seselja pointed out, when we had the press conference outside, he just could not help himself; he had to take a sideswipe at the commonwealth. The Greens, the Labor members and the opposition were there to take a united approach on something that was carried unanimously in the Assembly, but he had to turn it all into a stunt. I was personally very, very disappointed.

I know the sensitivity of members opposite, in particular the Chief Minister, to criticism. This is criticism he takes very personally. It is really an issue of style that we are talking about here. It is the intolerance of contrary points of view. Those who hold a different point of view are dismissed. The concern is that the people of Canberra are the ones whose interests are disregarded. I am worried about that.

I hear that he has a dismissive view, for example, about the diplomatic community. I hear that he will not even take calls any more from people when they want to present their credentials. I know they cannot vote, but they are a very significant part of our small economy. They employ lots of people; they expend a deal of money. Here is another group of people that are feeling rather shunned, not because he needs to pursue international issues but simply as a group of people who are sending their kids here, buying cars, employing Australians, spending money in our community. It typifies this attitude: “I’ll do things my way and disregard other perspectives.”

We have heard the pronouncements on Iraq. He dismissed and would not listen to my comments when I asked him what he thought about the previous regime in Iraq being allowed to run amok. I asked whether that was something that he would approve of and support. He was silent on that.

In America there are people who are referred to as “Monday morning quarterbacks”. They are the people who, on Monday, are experts on how the game should have been played. He is a great one with advice after the event. He knows better because of his enormous depth of experience, working basically for the public purse through his whole life.

The fur bristled when Mr Seselja raised some remarkable issues about his management of and consistency on refugee matters. What applies today may not have been such an apparent position as the one taken when he was in a position, probably, to have more influence than he does today on such policy.

In conclusion, I hope that members opposite heed the message. I know they will oppose this particular motion because they have got to. I am disappointed that debate has been contained. I found it interesting that we have been told to wrap this up because the criticism is too stinging, but it was only a couple of weeks ago that the Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, told the national day of community protest at Thoroughbred Park how


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