Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1498 ..
I cannot believe that we are going to apply the rule to the Liberal Party in one way—and it was applied as a rule. I accept you were not there at the time, Mr Speaker, but the precedent is there, the precedent accepted by the Assembly that day. I actually made the point, “Will this apply in future to Labor members when we talk about the poker machine licences?” I made the point that I expected it to be applied in the same manner then.
I said, “In future, will such directions be given, for instance, to members of the Labor Party who receive benefits from poker machines when we have poker machine legislation?” It was there and the warning was given that, if you apply this rule and you accept this way, it applies to all of us equally. And it should be applied in this manner today.
If the Assembly do not want the cloud of conflict of interest hanging over this place in the way we make decisions, and if you do not want people accusing us of looking after our own in the way that we often get accused, then the clearest thing here today is to exclude members who have on their staff members of the administrative committee of the ACT branch of the ALP. It is quite clear.
Mr Corbell gets up and reads the first half of the standing order. He is very good at this; he takes the bit that suits him. But it says:
… in a meeting of the Assembly where the matter or question relates directly or indirectly to that contract.
I think it is directly related. You have got an individual who has a contract with the minister and who sits on the board of an organisation that has been subject to inquiry, where a recommendation from the inquiry says, “You have got to end the conflict of interest,” but that member will sit there in the minister’s office, advising the minister on how to end that conflict. That is a conflict of interest and this should be supported today.
MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.04): I would like to reiterate my colleague Amanda Bresnan’s comment around the application of standing order 156. It is quite clear to us that we cannot support Mrs Dunne’s motion on this matter. The contract, as she stated, in Mr Seselja’s case was an employment contract. There was a direct connection that was occurring there.
I think one of the really important points that Ms Bresnan raised was about how far you are going to go on this matter. How far is it going to spread? She raised the issue around people who might be members or on boards of sporting organisations, community organisations. In fact, one of Mrs Dunne’s staff members is on the board of a very large community organisation. If we are going to apply this in this way, that would mean that Mrs Dunne would not be able to participate in certain discussions.
I am sure that there would be others as well. I understand Mr Hargreaves’s wife is on the board of an arts organisation. Does it mean whenever there is a discussion about arts organisations or funding Mr Hargreaves would have to step out of the room?