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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 1871 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

first opportunity, because I can see some green eyes over there, and I would be prepared to put money on it. In any event, Mr Speaker, Labor is well equipped to take on this role at a moment's notice. We have set ourselves the task of being the alternative government, but we accept also that the Assembly might decide otherwise, as they have done in the past. That does not cause us to shirk our responsibility to bring this matter to attention and carry it through. If called on, we will respond to the call without hesitation. A Labor government would be a law-abiding, honest and socially just government which acts in the interests of the community as a whole, not on whims and in the interests of self-promotion for just a few. Mr Humphries talked about precedent. May I put this question to Mr Humphries, through you, Mr Speaker: If we do not pass this motion tonight, what sort of precedent will we set?

MR RUGENDYKE (8.28): Mr Speaker, like every issue discussed in this Assembly, my sole aim is to do what I believe is right and what I believe is fair. I must say that I have wrestled with this decision over the past week. Even when we went to the dinner break earlier this evening, I was still grappling with it and what I have been hearing during the day. In fact, I had two speeches written and I had not decided which one I was going to deliver. My heart was saying, "Kick her out", and my head was asking, "Are the matters raised at this point in time sufficient to justify a genuine lack of confidence in the Chief Minister?".

This has been an emotive, passionate and political debate, and I have therefore had to differentiate between the political spin doctoring and fact. I have listened to both sides of the argument in this past week, hoping to be told the complete facts. The Government has not made this any easier by declaring that they will sacrifice government if this motion succeeds. I think it would be a sad blight on the party if they could not put up a replacement candidate for the Chief Minister. Why, for example, is Mr Humphries Deputy Chief Minister if he cannot take on the Chief Ministership in a crisis? But this is the Liberal Party's prerogative. While I believe this is a foolish tactic, it has not clouded the job at hand. As I have told people who contacted my office, "That is an issue you can take up with the Chief Minister. If there is a change of government over this motion, it will not be Dave Rugendyke's fault". It was the Chief Minister who increased the stakes. In fact, the only threat of instability has been created by the Liberal Government.

Mr Stanhope knows how high I set the bar on these motions. He knew that he would have to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt. The difficulty that Mr Stanhope has in proving his case beyond reasonable doubt is establishing intent, as we have heard today. Apart from the debate here today and in the media over recent weeks, I have been through every possible piece of information in regard to the Bruce affair. The majority of members here were not privy to meetings on Bruce Stadium which could have established intent.

Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that Bruce Stadium is a magnificent arena, and I have no doubt that it will be the scene of enormous enjoyment for Canberrans in the years ahead. But this debate is not about whether redeveloping the stadium was a good thing or not. It is not about whether the Government had its priorities right in deciding to go ahead with the project in the first place. The issue here is, quite clearly, whether we can prove intent on the part of Mrs Carnell to spend taxpayers' money in an improper way.

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