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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2711 ..

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.14): Mr Deputy Speaker, I will just make a short contribution to the debate to reiterate some of the issues that have been covered fairly broadly, but not particularly well or clearly at times. I come back to the point on which Mr Corbell began his contribution to this debate. I think we are overlooking the significant question of principle involved here, and I think this comes down to a consideration of that issue of principle - that an individual member of the Assembly has been targeted for different treatment. Under any definition of discrimination that any of our watchdogs on discrimination use, Mr Kaine is being significantly discriminated against as a result, basically, of a decision that he made. Mr Kaine is being treated differently from those of exactly the same characterisation and description, with whom he sits in this place. It is, to me, completely unacceptable that an individual member of this place can be singled out for treatment different from that which is available to like-situated members of the Assembly.

As has been explained, Mr Kaine's position in this place is no different from the position of Ms Tucker, Mr Rugendyke or Mr Osborne. Their positions are identical. It may be that at one point in time - namely, on 3 March, or at the time of the first sitting - their positions were different. But as of this moment their positions are no different. It is simply not possible to draw the longbow that was drawn, that Mr Kaine of his own volition left the Liberal Party, moved to the crossbench and established himself as an Independent and as a performing member of the crossbench.

Once you do that, you really have to draw the parallel with the situation of Mr Moore and you have to draw the parallel with the situation of Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne. Their situations are no different. Is anybody here going to seriously suggest that, if Mr Moore moved back to the crossbench, he would not receive the same staffing allocation as Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke? If Mr Moore took the decision that, as a matter of principle, he could no longer perform as an Independent member of the Cabinet and he would move back to the crossbench, is anybody seriously suggesting for one minute that Mr Moore would go back to the salary allowance that Mr Kaine has now? It is simply not sustainable to suggest that that would be the case.

So we come back to the bottom line here. The bottom line is that this is a discriminatory action. One is forced to the conclusion that it was made for reasons of petty mean-spiritedness; it was made out of vindictiveness; it was made out of genuine spitefulness to a colleague who basically abandoned a political philosophy that he had held and abandoned the party that he had been a member of for a long time.

Mr Moore: The word that Labor usually uses is "rat".

MR STANHOPE: I choose to concentrate on the motives that might have led the Chief Minister to discriminate against her ex-colleague in the way she has, and I have no option but to regard it as an expression of very extreme pettiness, vindictiveness and spitefulness. The bottom line is that it is just not fair. It is simply not fair that Mr Kaine should be discriminated against in this way.

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