Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2385 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
This motion of yours is a waste of time but, as you have moved it, the real misleading occurs where you have attempted to mislead the ACT community with your Government's distortion of the figures insofar as ACTEW is concerned. If you want to set the standard at the level that you have decided upon, I reckon it is fair enough for this amendment of mine to survive and the Government ought to be censured for the particular position that it has adopted. Mr Corbell's position has been open, honest and to the point. It has been about a document which you now have in front of you. His comments were direct quotes. All of his comments have to be taken in context, as Mr Smyth said. The impression that he created has to be considered against the background of all of his comments. The impression that he created was about outages in Victoria and it was a correct one.
MR HUMPHRIES (Acting Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (4.50): I want to make a couple of comments about the amendment. First of all, I want to sound a note of extreme caution, not so much about the effect of censuring the Government. We have been censured a great many times in the last few years and one more censure would not make much difference, but I want to make a couple of comments of caution to the Assembly. The amendment proposes that the Government should be censured for misleading the ACT community with the misuse of figures in respect of businesses that ACTEW has won. It should be borne in mind that the comments made by Mrs Carnell that Mr Corbell and others have made great issue about were comments made in the media by way of press release, not in this chamber.
I will comment in a moment on the substance of what was said by the Chief Minister in that press release. I have already indicated what I think about that and I will come back to that in a moment. But, before I do that, please consider this: If we start to move censure motions based on what is said outside the chamber as well as what is said inside the chamber, we have broken through into a new area which is not foreshadowed by the Westminster tradition and which has not previously been part of the work of this house. We have not previously censured people for comments that they have made outside this chamber. If we break through that barrier, that is fine; but we will be having much more material for censure motions than we have ever had in the past and they will be - - -
Mr Corbell: Kate Carnell would have to sack her media adviser if we started doing that.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I have had a constant barrage of comments.
MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hird): Order! It is out of order for anyone to interject. I remind members of standing orders.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, that is a new area of activity. If members want to do that, that is fine; but we will be occupied by censure motions much more often in the future if we allow a very high standard that applies to parliaments and what is said to parliaments by its members to apply now to what members say in press releases, speeches, letters and comments made outside the parliament. That is a very big step to take. I warn members about the size of that step and the implications of that step.