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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (26 October) . . Page.. 2118 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

It is inexcusable that the Minister involved did not, at the key time that he has indicated, say, "This is nonsense" and stop it. It is compounded when in this appalling process both the Chief Minister and the Territory's Attorney stand up and defend what happened. The Government as a whole has proposed this motion asking us to justify our claims, which we have done very well not just today but during the last week or so.

Mr De Domenico: Where is your evidence?

MR WOOD: The evidence, as Mr Whitecross clearly showed, Mr De Domenico, came from Mr Hird's own lips. Mr Hird's use of the personal pronouns "I" and "our" is where the evidence comes from. It also comes from the company employee who pointed to the advertising benefits to be gained from this. That is where the evidence comes from - from the people on your side who admit that connection. The connection should never have arisen.

The whole process fell down when Mr De Domenico on two or three occasions told this Assembly that he was alerted to the fact that the company that bears Mr Hird's name - the company that Mr Hird has no association with, says the Government - had won the contract and he did not have the wisdom to say no. The Chief Minister and the Attorney have not had the wisdom today or earlier to say that that was wrong. That is the key to the problem. That is where the process fell down.

Mr De Domenico: It would have been wrong for me to interfere, and you know that. It would have been wrong for any Minister to interfere in the due process.

MR WOOD: Quite wrong. Therefore, Minister, if you see something wrong happening, you must not intrude?

Mr De Domenico: No, I did not say that. The processes were adhered to. They were your processes.

MR WOOD: I think I heard Mr De Domenico, from this side of the house some little time ago, use the expression "The buck stops here". But you do not want that buck; you want to pass the blame back to other people.

Let me talk about the process. Mr Humphries had something to say about process. He picked up the book about processes and said, "We followed this chapter and verse". But what he deliberately and wilfully forgot is that the process includes what the Minister and the people actually do. The process is absolutely bound up with how people handle that process. Mr Humphries knows that, I am sure; but he did not want to concede that point today. The process includes the advice. I am not sure just how that came to Mr De Domenico, because he will not tell us. It includes how that advice was treated. A Minister on top of his duties would have said, "This cannot proceed". That is where the process would have stood up; but, instead, that decision was not taken and the process fell over. Mr Humphries's arguments are shown as empty, and the Government's approach to this and Mr De Domenico's approach to this have been shown to be absolutely irresponsible. The Opposition's pointing to this over recent days has been fully justifiable, and we wait for the Government to apologise and to change its view on what has happened.

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