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I also have to ask a very pertinent question as to the timing of this particular motion. Members of the Greens, who supported the election of the Chief Minister back in March, were well aware that an allegation of sexual harassment had been made against a member of the Government. Of course I do not mean on the day on which the Government was elected, but it was very soon thereafter. I am also sure that members of the Greens were well aware of who that member was. This motion could have been moved at any stage in the last three months without naming the particular Minister concerned. It is moved now, it would seem to me, to capitalise on the recent publicity which has attended the revelation of which Minister it is that is subject to these allegations. I ask why that is. Why should it be that this motion is dealt with at this stage?

With the greatest respect to the Greens, they have misunderstood the proper processes which ensure that a person is innocent until proven guilty. They have misunderstood the basis on which the commission is taking a long time to hear this matter. That is a matter of regret to every member of the Government but a matter which we can do absolutely nothing about. The Greens have misunderstood the procedures whereby we protect the integrity of the Government of the Territory. I would urge them to reconsider this motion they have put before the house.

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (10.49): Mr Speaker, the Opposition will be supporting the motion that Ms Tucker has put forward. We consider that this debate goes far beyond the allegation of sexual harassment that lies against Mr De Domenico, a grave matter though that is. I believe that the debate goes to the very core of the handling of the matter by Mrs Carnell and, of course, her capacity to act as the Chief Minister of this Territory. We in the Opposition have been scrupulous in refusing to become embroiled in the substance of the allegations against Mr De Domenico, and that will remain our position. Those allegations will be properly considered by the Human Rights Office; but I do not believe that that should deflect us from an entirely proper determination to ensure that the Government and specifically the Chief Minister conduct themselves in a manner which is not only proper but, when it is measured against every convention and against the public expectation of propriety and of leadership, is seen to be proper.

Mr Speaker, of all the antisocial occurrences that confront us, I believe that there are few which are so insidious, so offensive and so utterly demoralising as sexual harassment. I speak as a woman who has had over 30 years’ experience in the work force. Sexual harassment does not invariably, or even most frequently, involve physical contact. In fact, the Commonwealth Government publication “Sexual Harassment: Knowing Your Rights” states that sexual harassment can take many forms. It can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal. It then goes on to list examples. Prominent amongst the examples is the example of sexually suggestive comments and jokes. What is crucial to all allegations of sexual harassment is that the remarks, the behaviour or the advances are repeated and are unwanted.

It is not prejudging the issue to state that Mr De Domenico himself said in his statement on 22 May that he had never laid a hand on Ms Marshall but that he may have used inappropriate language in the office. Mr Speaker, I do not regard that as in any way automatically lessening the gravity of the allegations against Mr De Domenico.

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