Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 85 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: Leave was obtained in this particular circumstance that has been raised by the Opposition. Mr Speaker, the question is whether or not we establish rules. I think we have agreed that we establish rules, or attempt to do so. I pose the question, having done that, as to whether or not it is appropriate to establish rules in respect of a hypothetical person who may have been, say, facing sexual harassment charges arising out of their work as a member of the Legislative Assembly, and say in those circumstances that such a person ought to be reimbursed their legal costs, but then say that where an exact circumstance such as this has occurred such fees, such legal costs that arise out of that, cannot be met by the public purse. That, Mr Speaker, is to try to take political advantage out of the circumstances in which a member has found himself or herself.
Mr Speaker, there are many issues to be resolved in this matter. As far as the Government is concerned, Mrs Carnell has made it quite clear that the decision made by the Government previously on that matter stands, and we await the outcome of the inquiry. There will be no decision to pay Mr De Domenico's costs, for example, in respect of this appeal without there being some regard had to what is going on within the Assembly. Mr Speaker, I think there are those who seek to take advantage of the fact that they can potentially formulate one rule for members who have come before a certain case - indeed, Mr Berry was the beneficiary of such rules - and another rule for members who might come after a certain case, even identical in all circumstances. That somebody should be treated in one way and somebody else, in those same circumstances, should be treated differently is quite unfair, and I think those opposite know that it is unfair.
Ms Follett suggested that the rules are quite clear, but that in fact is not the case. If Ms Follett can show us an articulation of the rules that are consistent across the country, I would greatly like to see that, and I encourage her to do so; but she cannot do that because there is no consistency of those rules. Mr Speaker, I therefore commend this motion to the Assembly.
That the amendment (Ms Follett's) be agreed to.
The Assembly voted -
AYES, 7 NOES, 8 Mr Berry Mrs Carnell Ms Follett Mr Cornwell Ms Horodny Mr Hird Ms McRae Mr Humphries Ms Tucker Mr Kaine Mr Whitecross Mr Moore Mr Wood Mr Osborne Mr StefaniakQuestion so resolved in the negative.