Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 August 2011) . . Page.. 3228 ..
worth of damage—and that is being condoned by the Labor Party and the Greens—is a serious matter.
People make errors. If this had been a one-off comment, where it could have been misconstrued one way or another, by Mr Rattenbury and then he sought to clarify it and he actually said, “Well, no, I don’t condone these actions; I condemn them, in fact,” I think we would have let it go. We might have had a crack at him in the media, but I think we would have let it go. It would not have come to this place. But what has happened here is a series of statements—not one, not two but several statements, several attempts on radio. We have seen it in an opinion piece and in a letter. This is an ongoing position. This is not some error of judgement. This is not sort of a one-off, “I didn’t quite get my words right.” We all occasionally make mistakes. This is not a mistake. This is a deeply held position which he is sticking to.
He is entitled to his deeply held position, but it is a position that undermines his other position, which is that of the Speaker of this place. That is at the fundamentals of this. We have this extraordinary situation now—we heard it today—where the Labor Party says he has been unwise, that he has lacked wisdom. Yet they support him as Speaker. They support a Speaker who they believe is unwise. Surely that goes to the heart of what a Speaker’s job is about.
It is about judgement and wisdom. It is about someone making judgements between competing positions often. The Labor Party says one thing, the Liberal Party says another thing. The Speaker rules. The Speaker makes a judgement. Yet you have got one side of politics saying they do not have confidence in his ability to be Speaker. You have got the other side of politics saying they think he is unwise, but they will continue to support him. They will not even condemn him. That undermines the authority of the chair right there.
We now have two parties in this place—13 members—who have expressed serious reservations about the actions of the Speaker. One party believes that he should no longer be Speaker. The other party is prepared to excuse his lack of wisdom and his errors of judgement because they need him and they need the Greens. That is where we are left. But that is not a satisfactory situation, Mr Speaker, because, effectively, even though they have not had the courage to vote that way, the members of the Labor Party have expressed a lack of confidence. If you think the Speaker is unwise then the person is not fit to hold that role.
This is an unsatisfactory outcome where the Assembly has spoken on the one hand saying that the Speaker is not up to it but on the other hand a majority of members have refused to back that judgement up with their vote. We will be left in limbo where the Speaker’s position is undermined, where the authority of the Speaker is undermined, where the government believes he is unwise, the opposition believes that he should not be in the job, yet he will still be in the job.
This is a lowering of the standards of the Assembly by the Labor Party and the Greens today. This is them saying that there are no standards here. They will write off whatever behaviour if they believe that it is in their political interests to do so. I commend the original motion. I commend the motion that would express the lack of confidence in this Speaker.