Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1455 ..
Mr Rugendyke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think it is important for Mr Kaine to be here listening to this debate, since he has alleged that I was not listening or paying attention.
MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order.
MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, clearly, this Minister deserves to go.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (12.06): Mr Speaker, I think that it is now becoming very clear that this debate is a political exercise. It is shallow in the extreme. It has shown poor judgment on the part of Mr Stanhope in bringing this matter on, particularly today. It has shown poor leadership on the part of Mr Stanhope as well. Bringing Mr Berry in to back him up in the debate was a sensible idea because Mr Berry is always brought in to argue that black is white, as I mentioned yesterday, and he does so effectively by continuing to reiterate a particular perspective. Mr Speaker, the sensible thing for Mr Stanhope to have done in this case after Mr Humphries had responded to the issues was for Mr Stanhope to have realised that he had made a mistake, that he had been caught up in something that he did not understand - I can understand how he got caught up in it because I have been caught up in the same sort of thing previously - and to have withdrawn the want-of-confidence motion and apologised. Mr Humphries invited him to do that and that would have been the sensible thing to do.
I would like to run through a few of the issues. One of the most important issues for members to understand here is the role of a departmental liaison officer. Mr Stanhope has worked in a ministerial office. He knows the role of a departmental liaison officer. Is my departmental liaison officer a member of my personal staff? No, that person is not. Mr Hargreaves knows that because he has worked as a departmental liaison officer. He knows that that officer is a liaison officer between the department and the Minister, but the departmental officer is not a part of, as Mr Stanhope used the description a number of times, Mr Humphries' personal staff. A departmental liaison officer plays an entirely and completely different role. Mr Stanhope knows that. It may be the case, and I could accept this, that Mr Stanhope did not understand that this officer was a departmental liaison officer. There is that possibility, although I should have thought that he would have understood.
Mr Speaker, a number of issues have come up about the affidavits and the truth of the affidavits. I think it is important for us to remember that the recollection of Mr Bender in his affidavit is of a time when Mr Bender and the Bender family were under huge stress. They had just lost their daughter, and we all know that. We also know how we recall things. But I think it is important, Mr Speaker, to go back to a previous time and another affidavit, and I have a reason for doing that. I have to say very openly here, because the matter has been raised, that Mr Collaery is not my friend. I have had significant differences of opinion with him, but I would also say that I have not had those differences of opinion for certainly more than five years, probably seven years. I hardly ever deal with him. When I see him in public places, as is the pace of Canberra, we have dealt with each other politely. But I will say that we have only to go back and look at some things in 1991. Let me just quote a few words from Hansard of 1991: