Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 549 ..
This is a slightly different issue from what has happened in the past, when the person who raises the matter of privilege is often the person offended against. It just so happened that I was the person who did the investigation, who was able to bring to light this issue. I am not an offended party in this—any more than any other member of this place who has concerns about whether or not a witness speaks truthfully to a committee. In that sense, we are all offended parties in this matter.
I draw to members’ attention the outbursts of Mr Corbell at about this time last year, or a little later, in the privileges matter in relation to Mr Cormack. It was not a pretty display; it was a pretty bad day. Mr Speaker, it was a bad day for Mr Corbell when he sought to move dissent from your ruling over precedence. When he realised that there was no ruling on this matter, he attempted to move dissent from the ruling that there was no ruling. He called it a sham process; he called it a kangaroo court. And by the end of the day he was a member of that committee. Mr Corbell, by any test of the practice, had made up his mind on the matter.
If I am elected as a member of the privileges committee, I will be one of three members on the committee. I think that I have been put forward by my colleagues on the basis that I have the experience and the parliamentary experience to sit on a privileges committee. And, in relation to privileges committees, in the House of Representatives Practice it also says that for the most part members of a privileges committee should have longstanding parliamentary experience. On the basis of that, of those people put forward I have without a doubt the longest parliamentary experience.
MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella) (10.09): I thank the Chief Minister for allowing me to be able to speak. Yesterday I was a little critical—in fact, I was more than a little critical—of your own position, Mr Speaker, in relation to this particular matter. But I did actually pay the point, and I would like to reiterate it here, that when you were faced with a perception of conflict you did the absolutely right thing: you deferred the matter to the Deputy Speaker.
Mr Speaker, what we have here is the perception of fairness at risk as well as the possible conflict of interest from Mrs Dunne. The issue at hand is really that Mrs Dunne has actually made judgemental comments in the public arena—which, to the casual observer in this place, would seem to mean that procedural fairness is not possible. The minister is seeking to allow the opposition to substitute so that there is the perception of procedural fairness here. I would suggest to them that they take a leaf from your book, Mr Speaker. I congratulate you on what you did.
I think Mrs Dunne’s position that you have to be a member of long standing in this place is a little bit thin. Mr Smyth has senior service in this place compared with Mrs Dunne. There is, I would hope, no shortage of knowledge of parliamentary process with those opposite—although sometimes you would think there might be. But it is not appropriate that the perception of procedural fairness not be out there in the public arena. We are talking about senior officials here. We are talking about a complex issue. It is not a witch-hunt. If it is to be regarded as anything else then Mrs Dunne should do the honourable thing and not submit her name.