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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2121..


MR PRATT (continuing):

factional lines. Today we have a couple of disloyal ministers because of the factional foundation that makes up the Labor Party, the supposedly great democratic party. We know it is not democratic because it is factionally ruled, and even the Chief Minister cannot exercise authority over his own cabinet because of those factional lines. In this Assembly on 12 February 2004 the Chief Minister stated:

... the government does not intend to simply adopt a code and think nothing more of it. I consider that the principles and standards set out in the code apply each day a minister is in office and are relevant to each decision he or she makes. The government will not back away from the code when it suits; we will stand by it and uphold its values.

That is ringing endorsement from the Chief Minister, but that did not last very long, did it? On that basis, Katy Gallagher and Simon Corbell should resign for their public disavowal of the government's decision to close 39 schools, after voting against this decision on factional lines at the ALP conference. If they do not resign, the ministerial code of conduct basically demands that the Chief Minister sack them both for voting against it. The failure to do so highlights the blatant hypocrisy of the Stanhope government. Clearly it is thumbing its nose at the rules of conduct that these ministers and the Chief Minister have vowed to adhere to. Even the Speaker, Mr Berry, in this Assembly on 25 August 2005 declared:

The institution of parliament is a cornerstone of our democratic principles and values, which will be improved with the adoption of a code of conduct for members. The onus falls on us, as parliamentarians, to show our commitment to the institution and to the people by our adherence to the code.

So, given the emphatic support that the Chief Minister, the Speaker and all Labor MLAs in this place have shown for the code of conduct, these two ministers have no excuse for not following it. What about this demonstration by Mr Corbell that this great democratic party called the Labor Party is making the tough decisions? It does not even have the guts to consult with the community before it goes behind the community's back, driven by factional lines, to make sneaky decisions it then throws upon the community as a fait accompli. That is guts, is it not? The police minister, Mr Corbell, has a record of persistently and wilfully misleading the Assembly on a number of issues.

MR SPEAKER: Withdraw that.

MR PRATT: I withdraw that. It is okay; I will withdraw that. Mr Corbell cannot say on one hand that he supports the school closures initiative and then vote against any part of that initiative. He cannot have it both ways. It is this sort of attitude that got the minister into trouble before in this place. Mr Corbell has a history when it comes to questioning ministerial conduct, and that is on the record. In May 2003, when Mr Corbell was health minister, there were incidents in relation to withholding information from the Assembly on hospital activity and waiting lists. At that stage the Assembly forced Mr Corbell to supply the information. That is on the record. He eventually supplied that information but not without a fight.

In May 2003 there was an incident of Mr Corbell withholding information from the estimates committee in regard to waiting list data. A privileges committee hearing found that the minister had been guilty of contempt. A motion of no confidence was moved in


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