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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1226 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The final point I want to make, Mr Speaker, is this: The Government apologised on this matter only when they were caught out. The Government apologised on this matter only when they could no longer sustain the argument they had made. They apologised on this matter only when they were caught out in questioning in estimates. For three months, in 21 questions and one notice of motion in this place, they maintained the line until they were caught out and they had to apologise. That is not acceptable. The fact that they were caught out is reason for them to be censured in this place. They did not come clean until they were forced to do so, but for three months they wilfully, persistently and either deliberately or recklessly misled this place. They deserve to be censured for that.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (12.20): I have listened fairly intently to the last few speakers in this debate and I really think people need to have a good understanding of the serious nature of the motion and the meaning of the words "deliberately or recklessly misleading the Assembly". Those are very powerful words, Mr Speaker. From everything that I have heard today there is nothing which indicates to me that either of my two colleagues on this side of the house has done anything remotely like that. To deliberately mislead or deliberately do any act, Mr Speaker, is to have a conscious knowledge of what you are doing and intend the consequences of your act. "Reckless" is very similar, I think, in terms of how it is phrased here, to the criminal use of the word. "Reckless" is different. For example, I give a couple of examples which Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne might well appreciate, both being former policemen. I remember a case where I prosecuted a person for deliberately driving at another person, causing that person malicious injury. He was charged, I think, with attempted murder and malicious injury as the back-up charge. That was a deliberate act. It was quite plain from the evidence in that case - and there was substantial evidence - that he had deliberately tried to hit and seriously injure, at the very least, that person. An example of a reckless act, Mr Speaker, might well be a person charged, again, with murder, for reckless indifference to human life, who deliberately drove into a crowd of people at 60 kilometres an hour. That is a good example, I think, Mr Speaker, of a reckless act. What have we here that remotely indicates anything that either the Chief Minister or the Deputy Chief Minister has done to deliberately or recklessly mislead the Assembly on any of these issues? These issues have been done to death by the Opposition month after month since the establishment of this Government.

Mr Corbell made what I regard as a rather amazing allegation that quite clearly my two colleagues knew the status of the land before entering into the deal. How on earth can he say that? We have gone through all this process, all this debate, all the documentation, all the angst that has been caused by this matter and all the questions and comments made by the Opposition over many months. Why go through all of this process if they knew about that at the start? It defies logic. Nothing the Opposition has put up today has indicated one iota of proof to substantiate the very serious nature of the charges it is bringing against the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister - absolutely nothing at all. That is something the crossbenchers need to look at very carefully. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that there is any proof whatsoever behind the particular charges brought by the Opposition.

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