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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 1822 ..

MR CORNWELL: Because at various times since 1901, Mr Quinlan, there have not been majorities in the house. Significantly, no want-of-confidence motion in the House of Representatives has succeeded. Here, however, in 1989 the successful vote of want of confidence had its origins in the actions of the then Chief Minister attempting "to secure by persuasion the vote of the Speaker for [a] Bill". The Speaker in that First Assembly, as members will remember, was in fact an Independent, so there was a reason for moving that particular motion. In 1991 the successful vote came about because members of the Government withdrew their support.

Today I submit we have a very different scenario. The Leader of the Opposition alleges - I repeat "alleges" - law-breaking by the Chief Minister. So far, I believe, he has not produced the evidence to substantiate this allegation. The Chief Minister certainly has agreed that mistakes were made, and she has apologised for them. That is vastly different from substantiating allegations made by the Leader of the Opposition.

However, as I said earlier, it does not at all follow that every mistake made in their portfolio requires the dismissal of the Minister responsible. If that were the case, we might as well put a revolving door out there in the front of the Assembly, because we would have a cavalcade of Ministers passing in and out. The latest names on that long list, at least at the Commonwealth level, would be all the Attorneys-General in the Commonwealth who have recently been found to be in breach of the Constitution over cross-vesting.

In weighing up a case such as this, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Assembly has a responsibility to be above reproach. It must assess the motion justly and, in doing so, in my opinion, it must come to the conclusion that the evidence is not there and that the Chief Minister does not have a case to answer. I would ask members to seriously consider their vote.

MR CORBELL (3.37): Mr Speaker, I join with my colleague the Leader of the Opposition to support this motion of want of confidence in the Chief Minister, Mrs Carnell. Before I do so, Mr Speaker, I should draw to your attention comments you made in your speech. There is no doubt that a want-of-confidence motion is indeed one of the most significant and gravest actions that a parliament can undertake. But it is wrong of you to portray as fact that no motion of want of confidence has been passed in a government on the floor of the House of Representatives. I can recall at least two occasions in this century when that has occurred. The first was in the early days of the Second World War, when the Menzies Government was toppled on the floor of the House of Representatives and the Curtin Government was elected. The second and perhaps more notorious example was the motion of no confidence in Malcolm Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister, which was passed in 1975 just prior to the proroguing of that parliament. It is important, Mr Speaker, that we get our facts straight when dealing with this issue.

The reasons for this want of confidence are clear and they are unambiguous. The Chief Minister has been responsible for the illegal expenditure of $9.7m of taxpayers' money. This illegal expenditure occurred during 1998. It is expenditure which occurred without explicit, or indeed implicit, approval of this Assembly. As my colleague Mr Stanhope has said, it is a fundamental breach of that most significant of all notions in a contemporary Western democracy that no money can be taken out of the Consolidated

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