Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 439 ..
For all that hard work, for all that beavering away, for all of that dedicated, principled work that Mrs Dunne likes to talk up that she herself does—of course, no-one else says that; only Mrs Dunne—she got it wrong. She misled the committee. She made an accusation which was false. For that reason, given that Mrs Dunne believes that Mr Sullivan has misled the committee, I think there is a prima facie case to argue that so has Mrs Dunne.
Mr Stanhope: Clearly.
MR CORBELL: If Mrs Dunne believes that this matter should go to privileges then her actions also should be scrutinised by that same privileges committee, should this Assembly decide to establish such a committee.
Mr Speaker, people in glass houses should not throw stones. People in glass houses perhaps should reflect on the fact that Mr Sullivan has been quite clear about the evidence he has given in this place. Mrs Dunne should have the grace to acknowledge that she told the committee a falsehood when she attempted to entrap Mr Sullivan during the public hearings last week.
This highlights what this exercise is. This exercise is a political exercise. For the second time in the term of this Assembly, we are seeing the good name and reputation of senior public officials being dragged through the mud of privileges committees by the Liberal Party.
It is a deliberate agenda on their part; it is a deliberate tactic to try and improve their standing—that is, the Liberal Party’s standing—in the community. But let us understand what has happened. Let us understand what has happened to those senior officials. Their reputation is besmirched publicly before they are even given a chance to respond. Before they are even given a chance to respond, their reputation is besmirched publicly by those opposite.
The fact that they are even called before a privileges committee damages them irrevocably. Members in this place should reflect on that before they agree flippantly, easily or without too much thought to the prospect of the establishment of a privileges committee. We are used to defending ourselves publicly and we are used to taking the licks, but senior officials engaged under contract for work in the territory do not have that luxury and do not have that privilege.
All that those who hear about matters when their names are raised know is that there is some question mark over their honesty. That is something that is very difficult to recover from, even if there is no proof to support the claim. We believe there is no proof to support the claim in this case. If Mrs Dunne believes that the actions of Mr Sullivan in some way transgress against the privileges of this place, she will have great difficulty in arguing that her own actions do not transgress against this place.
If this committee is to be established today, and we hope it is not, we will be ensuring that Mrs Dunne has to explain why she, herself, should not be examined by that same process.