Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2116 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
Of course, in the process they successfully cast aspersions on the good name of at least three members of this Assembly - specifically Mr De Domenico, Mr Humphries and Mr Hird. This morning they were properly challenged to put some substance to their allegations. I sat through the debate. They scrabbled around for about two hours. They produced no substantive evidence, but along the way they again successfully managed to attribute improper actions or motives to members of this Assembly.
The heavies over the other side did not have much success in tossing up the substantive evidence, so along came Mr Whitecross. I presume that since they failed he must be the real heavy. What were we subjected to? We were subjected to over half an hour of Mr Whitecross. What was the substance of what he had to say? The first 20 minutes really was nothing more than an accusation of either inefficiency or incompetence on the part of the people who negotiated the contract. During that first 20 minutes he did not once mention any of the three people who, in one way or another, were supposed to have done something improper. He spoke only about the process. He was clearly asserting that the people who negotiated the contract were incompetent and did not know the rules. This was from a person who, I suspect, until he picked up the policy guidelines this morning, had probably never read them; but, having read the book, he is the instant expert. That 20 minutes of his 30-minute speech contributed nothing in terms of substantive evidence that would support the contention that members of this Assembly had somehow done something improper.
In the next five minutes or so he gave a great self-congratulatory run-down on his cross-examination of the accused in the Estimates Committee, which was fairly pathetic, I thought. It raises a question, though. Since the Estimates Committee has not yet finished its deliberations and has not produced a report, how is it that a member can read extracts from the transcript of that committee into the Hansard of this Assembly? I would suggest, Mr Speaker, that you should have a look to see whether that is improper conduct on the part of the member concerned. As I understand it, until that report is tabled in this place, it is privy to the committee. We have this strange sense of what is proper when it comes to our own actions, do we not?
I thought that the crux of the matter came when Mr Connolly got to his feet. I had been waiting for something substantive that said that Mr De Domenico, Mr Humphries or Mr Hird had actually done some specific act that was improper, illegal, unethical or something. Mr Connolly finally got to the nub of the matter when he repeated at some length something that he said by interjection during question time one day. During question time one day he said that it was improper for a member of the Assembly to get political advantage from the expenditure of public money. That was his assertion during an interjection. If you listened carefully to what he said this morning, his theme was that somehow Mr Hird - and he named Mr Hird - had committed an improper act by getting a political advantage from the use of public money.
To come to the point, I do not know how on earth he could conclude that money paid to a contractor for services rendered was still public money. No matter what Mr Hird did with the money, or what his company did with the money, it was not and could not be construed to be public money. If it could be so construed, then every contractor to the ACT Government and every consultant to the ACT Government had better be