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MS McRAE (11.29): Mr Speaker, I would like to enter briefly into the debate because the major point has been entirely missed. The question we are talking about here is the perception of leadership. We are talking about a Chief Minister in whose hands lies the responsibility for good management for the people of the ACT. As a Chief Minister, she has already put down a code of conduct which defines that Ministers are special people, that they are above all others, and that they stand with a level of responsibility which no other person in the community shares. There are only four of them in the ACT. It is outrageous that, in supporting the stand that one Minister should not be stood aside, constant references have been made - - -
Mrs Carnell: Just as Mr Berry was not.
MS McRAE: Thank you, Mrs Carnell, for your interjection. I repeat the point that this is personal impropriety relating to personal behaviour that is being talked about, and therein lies the distinction which the Chief Minister must understand. There is a fundamental difference between personal impropriety and ministerial maladministration. Alan Griffiths was stood aside. He was exonerated in the end, but he was stood aside. It was personal impropriety for which Alan Griffiths was stood aside.
If my memory serves me correctly, the 12 or so women who came forward later in the Terry Griffiths case came forward only grudgingly after Mr Fahey showed some leadership and found a special inquirer because he understood the ramifications of standing a person down. Did he stand back from his Premier responsibilities and say, “Oh dear, government will come to a halt, so I cannot stand this man down.”? No, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We must have an inquiry”. He called an inquiry and then the rest of the women came forward. From the very beginning there was one person on stress leave and an enormous reluctance to talk about the issues. Why? Women understand the ramifications of bringing allegations out. I find it totally abhorrent to have it suggested that there is a series of women waiting to make frivolous allegations against the other Ministers and to bring them down. What a nonsense! Time and again we have heard that there is a proper process in hand. Yes, there is a proper process in hand. Someone has made allegations, correctly, to the Human Rights Office. It is no longer in the realm of scuttlebutt and ugly stories that we daily share and maybe take delight in telling others about, as all humans do. It is no longer in the realm of personal behaviour, that we may or may not know about, that ministerial staff, our friends or members indulge in. We are no longer in the realm of everyday behaviour. We are in the realm of the leadership being shown by a government, by a Chief Minister and by her Ministers.
The Government is saying that we have only one woman's unsubstantiated allegations and that other staff members will not come forward. Who knows whether they will come forward or not? The inquiry is not on yet. Mr Griffiths's tormentors, as they might be seen by some, did not come forward until Carmel Niland began her inquiry, and then the full details came out. Women fully understand the ramifications of behaviour. Women fully understand the implications of things and do not take these things lightly.