Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2386 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
The second point about this amendment is this: Mrs Carnell made comments in her press release which I have indicated very clearly to this Assembly were wrong. Mrs Carnell referred to businesses. She was in error in doing so. She should have referred to sites. We have had the tradition in this place, I thought, of accepting that, if a member retracts an inaccurate statement, they should not then be censured for it. I did not make the statement; so, I cannot withdraw it. I suppose I am, as Acting Chief Minister, withdrawing the statement made by Mrs Carnell that there were 175 businesses. There were not. There were only 175 sites, and there was more than one site in some cases to a business. I have corrected the record here very clearly on that. If we are going to face censure after correcting the record, again we have created a new standard, a very silly new standard, in this debate. I know that it is late. It is nearly 5 o'clock and we have been half the day on this, but it is not sensible in the desire to get this off the program to make new standards which are quite silly and which we do not want to live with in the future.
Can I re-emphasise the basis of this motion? Mr Corbell has repeated in this place several times that he quoted accurately from a report from Mr Loney. I concede that fully. The facts as quoted are, in themselves, accurate. But the impression of the facts quoted in the way that they have been quoted is highly misleading. They were quoted by Mr Corbell to create the impression that under privatisation there had been a decline in the quality of service in Victoria when, in fact, precisely the opposite is true.
Let us assume for a minute that Mr Loney was being accurately quoted by Mr Corbell in that particular instance. Are we saying that a member does not mislead the Assembly if they accurately quote their source document, even if the source document itself might be misleading or wrong? Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, when the Chief Minister and I earlier this year confused the words "leases" and "blocks", we did so because we were reading from a departmental document prepared for us. That did not excuse us, however, because we still misled the Assembly in doing so, and we came back to correct the record. The fact that we had quoted someone else and it turned out to be inaccurate was no excuse for us; nor, I submit, should the fact that Mr Corbell's quotation was an accurate quotation of the very words used in another piece of paper excuse Mr Corbell from creating an accurate impression of the truth in this matter.
The reality is that Mr Corbell was trying to create the impression, by quoting these figures, that there had been a decline in the quality of the power supply in Victoria. That was not true. In fact, the opposite was true; there was an improvement in the quality of power. That was the impression created by those words. Those words, in themselves, were accurate; but they were highly misleading in the way in which they were quoted. We cannot separate words from their context. We have not in the past. That is why we should support this motion.
MR CORBELL (4.56): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, let us get very clear what we are talking about here. The Government has admitted and conceded that the figures I have quoted are accurate. The Government has admitted that I quoted from the source accurately. Let us make that very clear in our minds. There was no misleading,