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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2089 ..

MR WHITECROSS (continuing):

There is only one other point I want to raise, and that is the question of Mrs Carnell's leadership in this matter. Mrs Carnell is the Leader of the Liberal Party. Mrs Carnell is the Leader of the Government. Mrs Carnell owes it to the community to conduct her Government to the highest standards of propriety possible. She owes it to the business community to ensure that they can have the maximum confidence that things are being done in an appropriate way. Regardless of the strict legalisms of the case, Mrs Carnell, for the benefit of the community and in the public interest, should have said to Mr Hird, "This company with which you are associated would be - - -

Mrs Carnell: No, that his wife owns.

MR WHITECROSS: That his wife owns but with which he is associated, as I have just demonstrated - "would be well advised, in the public interest, in the interest of business confidence, not to do business with the ACT Government". Mrs Carnell was in a position to exercise that leadership. That might be inconvenient for the company; but the fact is that, in the public interest, sometimes members of governments and their families have to do things that are not altogether convenient. In this case, Mrs Carnell had an opportunity to do that and failed.

Mrs Carnell also owes it to the community at large to ensure that things are being conducted in a way that is both fair and seen to be fair. Instead of castigating her Minister for the appalling handling of this matter, she has sat by him, she has defended him, she has engaged in the worst kind of sophistry about Mr Hird's links to this company and has sought to hide behind these legalisms to avoid her responsibility as leader. Mrs Carnell needs to go back to her office and take a good look at herself, because what she is doing is damaging the credibility of the ACT Government and damaging the confidence with which people deal with the ACT Government. That is a very serious matter. Mrs Carnell should look at the history. She should look at what has happened in other States. She should look at how they have dealt with these matters and she should learn, because what she has done has been very damaging. She should also take her Minister to task for the slapdash way he has handled this whole business of issuing extra taxi plates, which has slashed one-third off the value of a taxi licence in the ACT, to the great cost of small business people in this city. She should insist that Mr De Domenico learn properly how the business of government is done and how he should go about making decisions as a Government Minister.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (12.08): Mr Speaker, if you were to divide the time that Mr Whitecross took to say what he said by the number of facts of impropriety that he put on the table, the fabric of the argument would have more holes than the ozone layer. I think he reinforces, through his bluster and his ranting, the fact that this Opposition has nothing on this Government, or on the Minister or on Mr Hird or on me, that it can produce. Moreover, it has nothing that it could produce outside this chamber in a place where it would be held to account for the outrageous, scandalous, malicious and false things that it has said.

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