Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2712 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
Mr Humphries, in his contribution to the debate, dwelt at some length on the dangerous precedent that would be set if this motion were passed. There is a far greater precedent that has been established here by the separate treatment that has been meted out to Mr Kaine. That is the precedent that bothers me. The precedent that bothers me is that an individual member of this place can be discriminated against on the basis of where they sit in the place. The dangerous precedent here is that this Government believes that a person's salary allocations should be determined on the basis of where they sit in this chamber. That is an extremely dangerous precedent.
If I were Mr Humphries and I were worrying about precedents and worrying about what future governments might do, rather than threaten us with the action that he might take in opposition, I would be thinking with a little more clarity about the precedent that this Government has established in relation to staffing allocations, that they are not made on the basis of fairness and equity. That is the precedent that I would be worried about.
It is also absurd to suggest - I think Mr Kaine very effectively debunked this - that it is simply impossible to find this money other than by raiding the staffing allocations of existing members. I accept the pretty attraction of Mr Osborne's generous offer, but it is simply not acceptable that, in a response to a spiteful action by the Chief Minister, every other member of the Assembly should cough up and make a contribution to the staff salary of that person who is so severely discriminated against. That is just ridiculous. In previous instances when the Chief Minister chose to raise the staffing allocations for the crossbench, she had absolutely no difficulty in finding a process for achieving that. Mr Kaine very effectively debunked the Chief Minister's argument on that in question time today.
The Chief Minister places enormous store in the fact that she had not anticipated this motion so therefore other avenues available to her suddenly went up in smoke. That can be very effectively debunked by acknowledging that as late as yesterday Mr Kaine himself probably did not know that he was going to move this motion today. The Chief Minister suggests that we have had months in which to consider the fact and prepare for the fact. Mr Kaine gave notice of this motion yesterday. How much less notice of the issue do you need?
I conclude by repeating the point that I commenced this contribution with. This is all about the question of principle involved in discriminating severely against a member in this place because he moved from one bench to another, because he moved from one party to another. That is seen to be sufficient justification for taking this discriminatory, spiteful, mean action against him. It is the action that one does not expect in the ACT Assembly. It is the sort of action that one does not expect from any operating democracy. It is certainly action that I do not think we would have seen in any other legislature in Australia at any time. It is the sort of action that one expects from jurisdictions that do not have the benefit of democratic systems or heritage. It is truly outrageous. The Chief Minister should repair the discrimination that she has perpetuated and forced on this Assembly through her mean and nasty action, her personal spite against Mr Kaine. Because he dared to change his philosophy, dared to change his seat and dared to disagree, he is being punished for it.