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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3230 ..

Ms Carnell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: No matter how anybody looks at this, Mr Stanhope is getting stuck into a public servant who has no capacity to stand up in this place and defend himself.

Mr Moore: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: We have a resolution agreed to by the Assembly on 4 May 1995.

MR SPEAKER: We most certainly do.

Mr Moore: You drew it to our attention not so long ago - in fact, on this very issue, Mr Speaker. I think Mr Stanhope is getting to the point where he ought to be named.

Mr Berry: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: This report is quite specific in relation to the matter at hand. There is a motion before this chamber: That the Assembly takes note of the paper. The paper reports in some detail in relation to the performance of public servants, and it is open to members to debate that. It is the subject of a substantive debate before this chamber. The motion has been moved and it is under the scrutiny of members. So, Mr Speaker, to try to prevent members from entertaining arguments which gave rise to the recommendation, by means of a point of order, would be frivolous.

MR SPEAKER: It does not, however, allow members to enter into debate to attack public servants who are not able to defend themselves. I remind members of the statement I made earlier in relation to this very matter.

Mr Corbell: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: I think it is wrong for you and also for the Chief Minister to say that there is no avenue available because, as members would be aware, there is an avenue available to any citizen who believes that he or she has been maligned inappropriately in this place. That avenue does exist. I will remind members of that. It has been used once in this place already. In light of that avenue existing, Mr Speaker, along with Mr Berry's point that Mr Stanhope is addressing a substantive matter raised in the Government's response to the Estimates Committee's report, he is entirely in order in raising an issue of grave concern about effective public administration in this city.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, I have read the Government's response to recommendation 6. There is no problem about members referring to the recommendations. They can criticise the recommendations or the comments made by the Government if they wish; but I cannot allow them to attack public servants who, despite what you may say, Mr Corbell, are in no position to defend themselves in this house. I would hate to think that we had got a stage here where there was a free go in the Assembly to simply criticise anybody here with impunity, on the basis that somehow they might have had some opportunity to take action. We have a long day ahead of us. I would ask members if they could confine themselves - and I am sure Mr Stanhope is capable of doing that - to the criticism of the report.

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