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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3606 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: Okay, Mr Speaker. Mr Berry disagrees with the coroner's finding. That is fine.

Mr Berry: No, no. That is wrong.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the fact is that the language used by the coroner was clear and direct.

MR SPEAKER: Just a moment. I want no interjections, thank you. If you people regard this as serious then I suggest you start treating it as such, not a slanging match across the chamber.

MR HUMPHRIES: I submit to the Assembly that this chamber would look like a veritable kangaroo court if, having received a report of the coroner which expressly seeks to address the many public claims made about the Chief Minister and of those claims says that there was no evidence to support a contention that she was personally or directly responsible for that death, it took those recommendations and yet said of them that they are a basis to remove her from the office of Chief Minister. That would constitute a kangaroo court.

Mr Speaker, I come back to my formula here. If Labor believes that there has been some inviolable principle of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility which has been violated in this place they need to state what that principle is. They need to articulate it, not to rely on the broad, bland self-serving generalisations that they have used to date. Imagine a provision of a mythical statute which creates offences and the penalty provision reads, "The Minister shall resign or be removed from office". What does the rest say? How does the rest of the provision look that describes what the Chief Minister has done wrong? If they can articulate that, we are some way down the path towards resolving this matter, Mr Speaker, but until they do this motion deserves to fail.

MR KAINE (3.41): Mr Speaker, it was just five months ago in this place that I said the debate in which we were then participating, which was a motion of want of confidence in the Chief Minister, marked a defining moment in the history of this legislature. I said that because I believed that we elected representatives of the people of Canberra were asking ourselves a question that was fundamental to the future of this place - that is, was it appropriate for a Chief Minister who acted unlawfully, who had committed a series of unlawful acts, to continue to serve in that high office. I said further that it was not just the Chief Minister who would be held to account for her actions; the credibility of every one of us here collectively and separately was on the line.

On behalf of 300,000 Canberrans, we were dealing with this question: Were we, as elected members of this parliament, prepared to support as head of the Executive a person who had acted contrary to the law? Shed of all the sophistry of dissembling, it came down to this basic principle: Was the head of government, the chief executive of all people, a person beyond reproach and thus fit to continue holding office? We know now that in the end sophistry and dissembling won that day. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, a simple majority of members in this place, for whatever reasons, preferred to continue propping up this Chief Minister. For those members who supported the

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