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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 935 ..

In terms of the particular instance, the first part of the exchange involved Mr Hanson saying words around, “You’re getting the money.” But he was saying this to a person who is the Chief Minister and Treasurer of the ACT. I think that, in that context, what he meant was abundantly clear, particularly as the Chief Minister on a number of occasions asked him to clarify. And when he did clarify, Mr Hanson was clear that he was not suggesting that Mr Barr personally was receiving the money. There was only what I could say was the suggestion or the imputation—but it was not a suggestion or imputation but a clear statement that the ACT government was receiving this money, which, of course, is reasonable. That was what was being talked about.

If there is anybody in the world who could be regarded as the personification of the ACT government, I would have thought that the Chief Minister came pretty close to being that person. Outside this place sometimes people refer to me as a member of the government. It depends a bit on the context as to whether I draw any distinctions with regard to my role. Sometimes when they are talking about some of the more egregious planning decisions, I say that I am a humble crossbencher and that if I had been the planning minister that decision would not have been taken.

We all know that we are often addressed as “the government”, regardless of our actual role in this Assembly. I think that Mr Barr should have been capable of determining that Mr Hanson was addressing him in his role and position as Chief Minister and Treasurer. So I really could not agree with Mr Barr when he said that threatening the chair was his only option. Very clearly, that was not his only option. It is not appropriate, when you think that someone is not describing you in the way you would like to be described, to threaten them. It is inappropriate. There is no real way around that. It was particularly inappropriate that when Mr Hanson sought to clarify what Mr Barr was actually saying, Mr Barr doubled down on his threat. Clearly, it was not just a matter of saying, “I’ve got upset. I don’t know how to deal with this.” He doubled down on it.

There were some things in Mr Barr’s statement earlier today that I would have to agree with, around the need for a standing orders review and that this should encompass the committees. I have been on a number of estimates committees in this Assembly, and in the Seventh Assembly. With respect to the majority of them, at least once they have degenerated into a slanging match between the minister at the time and one or more members of the committee—usually only one member of the committee. The whole behaviour is unparliamentary and it is very difficult to know what to do about it. The committees that I have been a part of clearly have not been able to deal with that sort of behaviour particularly well or appropriately. From that point of view, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Barr’s comments that we do need more clarification of how committees work.

This must be particularly hard for those committees—none of which, of course, I am a member of—which are two-two, where it is abundantly clear that anything of a political nature potentially cannot be determined by the committee. That is one of the problems with looking at the determination that the committee made in this instance. It is a two-two committee. Obviously, I was not a part of the committee. I am not privy in any way to what may have been said there. My assumption would be that

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