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Whether it is fair or not, Ministers of this Assembly are representatives of the needs, aspirations and values of the broader Canberra community and as such are open to more rigorous scrutiny and at times subject to processes that many other people in the community may not be subjected to. However, it is seen as appropriate in other areas of work, such as teaching, to ask employees to stand aside if allegations such as this are made. Surely the Deputy Chief Minister should also be subject to such rigorous processes.

Mr Speaker, from the moment this Government was officially declared, the Chief Minister had it within her power to ensure that this matter was given only minimal attention, by waiting until the matter had been resolved by the Human Rights Office before appointing Mr De Domenico to his ministerial positions. However, she did not decide to take that course of action, and now she is left to make a much harder decision that could be determined by the numbers in this place rather than by what is best for the people of Canberra.

Finally, I will reiterate the main points of our argument. A decision by the Assembly to support this motion does not mean that this place is acting as judge and jury. It simply means that the members believe that Ministers of this Territory should stand aside while facing allegations that are as serious as those being faced by the Deputy Chief Minister. It is important that the Assembly send a message to the wider community that sexual harassment is not on and that the Chief Minister is prepared to make that point by asking a Minister facing such an allegation to step aside until the matter can be resolved.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (10.38): Mr Speaker, I must say that I am disturbed that the Greens should see fit to bring this motion forward to the Assembly today. It is a motion which, I think, does great damage to a number of important principles on which this Assembly and indeed this community have operated for a number of years. The Greens tell us that they are not interested in prejudging the guilt or innocence of Mr De Domenico in this matter, yet I would suggest to them that that is precisely what they are doing by demanding that certain action flow from the fact that allegations have been made against Mr De Domenico in the human rights commission of this Territory.

I ask members to think for a moment about the consequences of the course of action that the Greens are urging on us. If next week an allegation on a similar basis were to be made against me, for example, I assume that the Greens would have it that I should stand aside as well. If the week after a similar allegation were made against Mr Stefaniak, presumably he would stand aside as well.

Mr Stefaniak: Ms Follett?

MR HUMPHRIES: We do not know about members of the Opposition; but we do know that under the standard being proposed by the Greens such a claim brought against any member of the Government, with however little justification, on whatever spurious basis, ought to be assumed to be sufficient ground to have that person stand aside from the ministry.

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