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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3615 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

Of necessity, having not been able to do so elsewhere, I have had to spend the past several minutes defending myself against untrue and malicious allegations made against me during and since the inquest into the death of Katie Bender. I am offended. Of course I am offended. A concerted, coordinated attempt has been made by insinuation and snide reference to drag down my good name and reputation. If public opinion is anything to go by, this attempt to drag down my good name and reputation has miserably failed.

I will not be Mrs Carnell's scapegoat. I will not be her patsy, and nor should anyone else have to become a scapegoat. The wider community appears to have come to its own conclusions already about who was responsible for the tragedy at the Royal Canberra Hospital demolition. The legal consequences of that tragedy, that shame on Canberra, will be played out elsewhere. I am quietly confident that in the end justice will prevail.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, as you well know, before I came to politics I had a long career in public administration. I served for almost five decades in the military, in the Commonwealth Public Service and latterly as an elected representative of the people. I guess I am now nearing the end of my very long tour of duty, but from the vantage point of my many years of service I say this to you and my colleagues in this Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory: Colleagues, this Chief Minister has no place amongst us. By her actions, she has brought disgrace upon herself and, by association, upon this Assembly and upon us. She has no place amongst us. I would say to Kate, if she were here, "Go now. Go with some grace because your time among us is at an end".

Finally, Mr Speaker, as the oldest member and one of the longest standing members of this place, may I extend, through you, our deepest sympathy to Mr and Mrs Bender and to the Bender family. We should beg their forgiveness because the Chief Minister is a creation of this place. It was within our power to do something to stop her long before this and to curtail the actions that have led to a tragedy. But we did not stop the Chief Minister. Some will not even do so now. At this defining moment in the history of this Assembly, it will be to our lasting, collective shame that we did not do so.

MR BERRY (4.11): At the outset I should deal with a few comments that were made by Mr Humphries and Mr Smyth. Mr Smyth's speech was essentially a litany of all of the mistakes that have been uncovered and the efforts by the Government to correct them. They were an admission of the frailties of his own administration, an admission of much of what had gone wrong.

Mr Humphries drew together an interesting speech, though not a very convincing one. The first thing he said is that moving a motion of no confidence against the Chief Minister on these issues is unprecedented. I am not surprised, because nowhere else in Australia has there been such an event where the public has been invited to an event where one of their number has been struck down as a result of a flawed process which led us to that form of demolition. I am sure that, if that had been the case, the political party responsible for that politician would have dealt the final blow, rather than relying on the legislature because they would be so embarrassed.

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