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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3445 ..

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, what happens in issues of conflict of interest is that they usually arise when Ministers take a particular decision. Mrs Carnell has taken a position. That is, she has decided that she wants to be Health Minister as well as own a pharmacy that deals with the Commonwealth and deals in the area of her ministerial responsibility. Mrs Carnell owns a pharmacy which can enter into contracts with the ACT Government in relation to certain matters. So there is clearly, for the ordinary person in the street, a conflict of interest, and that is why you need a code of practice that covers it.

Mr De Domenico mentioned Mr Howard's code of practice. Strict adherence to Mr Howard's code of practice would rule Mrs Carnell out of either being a Minister or owning a pharmacy. She has to make the choice.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Berry, I would remind you again of standing order 55. If you wish to make imputations against Mrs Carnell's behaviour, it has to be done as a substantive motion. What you have before the Chair at the moment is a motion that a code of conduct be examined by the Administration and Procedure Committee, and I would ask you to hold to that and stop getting personal.

MR BERRY: I move:

That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent the resolution of any questions on Notice No. 1, Assembly business.

Question resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I raised the issue of Mr Howard's code of practice because Mr De Domenico referred to it in commenting on the Minister for Primary Industries at a Federal level. That particular Minister quite clearly avoided the full impact of the code of practice. That is very clear. He should have made a choice. He should have decided to divest himself of the farm or not be a Minister. That was the clear choice, and that was the choice Mrs Carnell ought to have made as well.

I know that Mrs Carnell and others in the Liberal Party are nervous about this issue of conflict of interest, but they do not seem to understand it at all. That has been the difficulty all along, and that is why this inquiry will be a very important one. I think it has been shown by actions of members of this Assembly that there is a need for a code of conduct to ensure that we can deal with these issues, not the least of which in the past have been the activities of the current Chief Minister. For these people to say that it is a personal attack is to try to distract us from the real issue. The real issue is a choice that has been made by a Minister. That is, they wish to retain their private business interests as well as be a Minister.

MR SPEAKER: Order! You are sailing very close to the wind on this. I refer you to standing order 55, Mr Berry. I understand that the motion before the Chair is to establish a code of conduct.

MR BERRY: Indeed.

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