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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3562 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The Times got it right but, in arguing for a further inquiry, drew the wrong conclusions. The coroner got it right in drawing attention to the systemic failings of this creaking, teetering administration, but then he blinked. He would not draw a conclusion. Given that the Chief Minister has demonstrated that she is not prepared to accept the responsibility she says is hers and resign, the only available sanction has to be a political one. That sanction is applied, rightly, by this Assembly. That is why members of this place must support this motion, or cogently and immediately explain to the community why they continue to support the wilting head of a flawed government.

There is no sense in waiting to act, as is the preference of Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke. Why wait? This matter is more than two years old, and what damage has the Chief Minister done in that time? What more will she do while we wait for the Auditor-General? And why should we expect the Auditor to be the judge? No, the time is now. If the Chief Minister will not act to discharge the responsibility for the failings of her administration that are so chillingly reported in the coroner's report, then the Assembly must tell her to go.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (11.15): Mr Speaker, I listened with interest to Mr Stanhope's, at times, emotive argument and with particular interest to the quotes he attributed to the Chief Minister in relation to ministerial responsibility and the responsibility of the Chief Minister. I have also listened with interest to what he has said outside this place over the last few weeks in relation to this matter. At no time, however, have I heard him actually state in a clear form, or in any form, what is Labor's definition of ministerial responsibility. What, indeed, is the test that they would wish to apply? They have not told us to date. Mr Stanhope has not done so to date. It will be interesting to see whether anyone else on the other side of the chamber will do so or whether he will address that in his concluding remarks.

Mr Speaker, I wish to commence my contribution to this debate by reading a quote from a recent coronial inquest:

The evidence put before this inquest revealed a situation in which an environment had developed over a long period of time involving both workers and management in which persons employed ... failed in varying degrees in the proper execution of those responsibilities.

I wonder whether any of the members opposite recognise those words. No, they are not the words of Coroner Madden in his report on the death of Katie Bender, although they almost could be. They are, in fact, the concluding comments of Coroner Somes at the inquest into the death of the young person who tragically hanged himself at the Quamby youth detention facility in 1996. That report - I said that it was a recent one - was handed down in June of this year.

There are some remarkable similarities between that report and the most recent coronial report by Shane Madden into the equally tragic death of Katie Bender. There is, however, a marked difference in the treatment of those two reports by the Opposition. In the case of the Quamby inquest, there is reference to severe failings on the part of

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