Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 458 ..
members in this place reflected on a job well done by the Speaker in the previous year. There were many people who praised the work that had been done by the Speaker. I just rose to say that Mr Hargreaves is wandering off on his own somewhere and we really need to get back to what we are debating this morning.
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (11.29): There is no question that privilege issues are of great importance and great consequence. I was an instigator of a privileges committee last year and I understand fully the gravity and seriousness with which they should be treated. The consequences for people’s reputations and their careers are important. I am very confident that in this case Mrs Dunne has taken that fully into account and has not brought this matter forward lightly. She has brought it forward because it is indeed a very grave and serious matter to mislead a committee of this Assembly. I think that she and others, including Mr Seselja and Ms Bresnan, have laid out the facts of the matter. I think that Mr Corbell’s and Mr Stanhope’s somewhat mock outrage and their attack on Mrs Dunne were somewhat concocted. What they should do is accept that if an official has misled a committee of this Assembly then that is a very grave action.
Mr Speaker, I was not intending to speak for long but, in response to some of the comments that have been made by Mr Hargreaves, I think that your role in this matter does require questioning. You have an important role in this matter of determining precedence. It is unfortunate that your decision to take a role as both Speaker and as an active protagonist in this and other debates has led to you being unable to fulfil your duties fully in this matter.
You would know, Mr Speaker, that on occasions you and I have had heated words when I have found cause to complain about your dual role as Speaker and a member of the crossbench. This is highlighted in the most serious circumstances—why the duality of that role is something that was almost, by default, going to lead to a situation like this. Mr Speaker, I fear it will again if you continue on with these dual roles.
You now have a situation where you have called on Ms Porter to essentially deputise for you today in the role of Speaker. Ms Bresnan is deputising for you in your role as a crossbench spokesperson on this issue. You are fulfilling neither role adequately because of that decision. The Speaker’s role should be one that is somewhat above the political fray in the heated battle that occurs oftentimes in this place, certainly between the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. It is highly inappropriate that we find ourselves in a position on this matter when points of order have been raised by the crossbench in defence of the Speaker. I think that that just demonstrates how partisan your position risks becoming by pursuing this matter. Mr Speaker, I concur with Mr Hargreaves in that this is not a personal reflection on you; it is simply a matter of the necessity to keep the Speaker’s role separate.
Returning to the substantive matter, I fully concur with Mrs Dunne’s course of action on the issue of privilege. This is a very necessary committee to be established. I think that the role of the minister does need to be questioned, in addition to that of Mr Sullivan. Ministers have responsibility and her role in neglecting to address what had been a serious mislead needs to be questioned further.