Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3614 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
In any case, Mr Smyth got it right. If you read the report carefully, the coroner virtually says, "WorkCover did not contribute in any way to the tragic outcome". In fact, he says that they were not contracted to anybody, they had no contractual obligation and they were not the project safety officer. Indeed, he makes the criticism that they were not qualified. Yet the Chief Minister and her deputy continue to assert that somehow I was responsible.
Having been exposed on this point alone, if the Chief Minister possessed even a shred of honour and decency, she would have gone long ago and we would not be going through this unseemly process today. But do not take it from me alone. Consider also the following thoughts of an ordinary citizen who wrote to the editor of the Canberra Times only yesterday:
Nothing can be more nauseating, morally bereft and spiritually bankrupt as a chief minister on a craven quest for popularity promoting a public spectacle, which results in the worst possible consequences, and then tries to absolve herself of all responsibilities.
Is there anyone left in the territory who has a modicum of confidence in this person, other than those who are paid to do so?
I think that states it nicely. In all my years of involvement in the political process, I do not think I have ever read a more caustic and contemptuous indictment of a local politician. This is from an ordinary citizen - one so disgusted by the actions of this Chief Minister that he was prepared to write in such terms to the media.
Subsequent to the coroner's inquiry, the Chief Minister and her deputy did not stop their attacks on me. They were not prepared to drop their fabrication even after the coroner brought down his findings. One would have thought that, having been subject to such a definitively damning finding by the coroner and the counsel assisting the coroner, the Chief Minister and those close to her would have been carefully guarding their tongues, especially when talking to the media.
But the very next day after the coroner tabled his report, both the Chief Minister and her deputy were on commercial radio attempting to revitalise their myth that I was in some way responsible. The Chief Minister went so far as to assert that I was the Minister with the ultimate responsibility. To quote from the transcript of her radio interview, I was the one with "the ultimate responsibility for the hospital demolition project". Insinuating that I had ultimate responsibility for the project is also an insinuation that I was ultimately responsible for Katie Bender's death. It leads to that.
Mr Speaker, they have continued to try to establish this alibi, even up to today when the deputy leader of the Government read from the coroner's report trying to imply that I was somehow more strongly responsible than the Chief Minister was. Like the writer of that letter to the Canberra Times yesterday, I believe the only people in the ACT and beyond who believe that lie are the people who are paid to do so, and those people have to live with their shame, if indeed they are capable of feeling shame.