Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 November 2011) . . Page.. 5428 ..
Nobody on the crossbench or in the government is willing to hold Mr Corbell to account. You would hope that somebody would—perhaps the Chief Minister. I notice the Chief Minister is not here to support her colleague, but perhaps she will drag him aside and say: “Stop this. You’ve got to get your facts right.” But the question is: what did Mr Corbell do between 1 November and yesterday when he repeated the assertion that the RSPCA was wrong? We are yet to hear anything. We are yet to hear that he checked. We are yet to hear that he got any advice in that period. It was only when he was asked again, when he was held to account yesterday, that he went away and asked.
That is the breakdown of the ministerial responsibility. The code of conduct covers the inadvertent mistake—come and correct it. But when you have repeated it a second time and then a third time, that is not inadvertent and it becomes either negligent or reckless, deliberate, or all three. That is what we seek to hold this minister to account for today.
We heard that he found this material out late last night. If we had not asked it, none of us would have heard what he came in and said at 2 o’clock today. If we had not done the work then the minister would have continued to repeat that lie, and the minister would have got away with it to the detriment of an organisation that serves this community well.
It really is about respect for this place and it is about respect for the community. It is about getting it right. Everyone in the course of their lives will make mistakes. But it is about fixing those mistakes when they are drawn to your attention instead of repeating them. We saw it with the DPP and the opinion on the severity of sentences. Continually repeats without getting any information, without checking. Continually repeats. He does it time and time again.
It is important that we get this right. It is important that Mr Corbell is held to account. Mr Corbell has said, “Give me the honour of saying I had the guts to come in here and tell you what happened.” He had a duty to come in here and tell us what happened. If he had not been held to account by Mr Coe then there would have been no guts because there would have been no correction and there would have been no half-hearted apology. That is what is wrong here. The ministerial code of conduct, as Ms Hunter touched on, says:
Ministers should take reasonable steps to ensure the factual content of statements they make in the Assembly are soundly based and that they correct any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.
So what happened on 2 November after he made the statement and was held to account in the committee? What happened on 3 November, 4 November, 5 November, 6 November, 7 November, 8 November, 9 November and all the way through to yesterday when he was asked the question? Nothing, it would appear, because the minister blindly and wilfully just got up and repeated the accusation, repeated the mistruth, repeated the lie.
At the same time, in all that he says there is the slur on the CEO of the RSPCA. It will be interesting, Ms Hunter, to see whether the minister writes to the Canberra Times with a correction. It will be interesting to see if there is a correcting press release