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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (12 October) . . Page.. 2945 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The Minister deserves to be censured for this. The Minister has shown a high level of incompetence. This is a serious health issue. This Government has not taken seriously the importation of seriously contaminated product into this Territory. The Minister's press release is seriously misleading. The Minister has sought to downplay this serious health issue to such an extent that in his attempts to seem to be on top of it and to be above it he has misled the community through this press release in a most serious and damaging way. He deserves to be censured.

MR HIRD (11.55): Mr Speaker, I join with the Leader of the Opposition in using the phrase "caught out".

Mr Stanhope: It is your electorate too, Mr Hird.

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I listened without interruption to the Leader of the Opposition. I ask for the same courtesy, sir, and I ask for your protection. I will use the Leader of the Opposition's words, "caught out". The Minister has done nothing, nothing at all. He has taken the correct procedures. I join with our colleague Mr Kaine. Mr Kaine ought to know these procedures because he was the Minister for Urban Services, and a good one too, an excellent one.

Before I get into that aspect of our debate, let me say to the workers and the residents of my electorate, Mr Rugendyke's electorate, Mr Stefaniak's electorate and Mr Berry's electorate, that they should have been first and foremost paramount in our minds, but apparently they were not. Once the Minister heard of the problem he took the appropriate action, as Mr Kaine indicated. But that was not it. As I said earlier, this is a case of political opportunism which I believe has backfired on the Greens, on Kerrie Tucker, and I will tell you why, sir. The Minister for Health has been accused by those people opposite of using this debate as an opportunity to bag and to downgrade the issue, and certainly to downgrade Kerrie Tucker. I put it to you, sir, that that is not the real issue.

We knew that the site was contaminated. We knew that the Minister needed to close the tip, and he did so immediately it was brought to his attention. But what happened? There may have been a breach of the law. The Minister for Health was quite right to point out to the publicity - seeking opportunist, Ms Kerrie Tucker, that she may have endangered Dean McNicoll, the photographer from the Canberra Times. I notice that she has gone quiet. She may have endangered him and she may have endangered herself.

What happens if she becomes ill as a result of taking this opportunity to gain publicity by standing on top of what she says in her motion is land at the Belconnen landfill contaminated by waste material? She is pictured on top of the waste material said to be contaminated by lead. I think that both Ministers are to be commended, and in particular the Minister for Health for his concern for the health of one of the citizens of the ACT. I must admit that she is shown with her arms folded, Mr Speaker, so she is concerned, I suppose.

Why was she there, and has she breached any legislation? That is the question I ask. She may well have breached that legislation. It might be all very well for Mr Corbell, sitting opposite, to just sweep it under the carpet, but this was a serious breach of procedure at

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