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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3626 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

There is even less evidence of the involvement of Mrs Carnell because there was no action with which she ought obviously to have been concerned and with which she showed no concern. That does not apply. "Unless the action which stands condemned was theirs". Is it her action that stands condemned? No, it is not. Was the action taken specifically on her direction? No, it was not. That is what the coroner puts. The Labor Party has been challenged again and again today to put their standard of ministerial accountability, but there has not been any standard of ministerial accountability given other than the one in House of Representatives Practice which has been put by both Ms Tucker and Mr Humphries.

Let me give another quote. A few other texts have been quoted, but let me quote from a recent publication, Ethics and Political Practice - Perspective on Legislative Ethics, edited by Noel Preston and Charles Sanford. I refer to a chapter about accountability written by Howard Wilson, the Canadian Ethics Counsellor. He wrote:

Accountability is basically a simple concept that has on occasion been made rather confusing. It is a long-established convention of the Westminster system that cabinet ministers are responsible to parliament for the actions of their department. Attempts have been made to make senior public servants responsible for departmental actions, citing the complexity of government and the impossibility of having the minister involved in every decision. These arguments do not change the basic accountabilities of ministers for the actions of their department.

At this stage, it is sounding pretty bad, but Mr Wilson goes on:

Of course, not every mistake made by staff is reason for the minister to resign. The minister must make every effort to keep informed of departmental activities and establish appropriate controls on them. When mistakes come to light, ministers must act to correct them. It is the dereliction of these ministerial duties or unethical behaviour by ministers that raises (or should raise) the issue of resignation.

That is the fundamental question. It is not inconsistent with what is put in House of Representatives Practice. Mr Stanhope constantly refers to Westminster tradition. If we are going to be consistent with Westminster tradition, we have to look at what somebody appointed by the Canadian Prime Minister to be the Ethics Counsellor actually sets out for us, in a very similar way to House of Representatives Practice, as to what is ministerial responsibility. It is silly to have anything else.

I think that Mr Humphries put it well, but how do I manage? I recommend to people constantly that they go and have operations, and I will continue to do so because that is the most sensible thing for somebody with, for example, cancer to go and do, provided it is recommended by their doctor. But there is a risk in it and some of these people die. Sometimes there is negligence within hospitals. What do we do about it? As Minister, I have done a number of things already about that sort of thing. I have certainly allowed for protection or quality control at private hospitals as well as the public hospital, for

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