Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3640 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
that, every time there is a problem anywhere in government, the Chief Minister has to resign because the buck stops with the Chief Minister. That is simply ridiculous because, I have to say, whoever took over from me would not last long if the basis of this whole debate was that the Chief Minister had to resign if there was a systemic problem anywhere in the Public Service that the Chief Minister did not know about. Remember, the coroner has made it clear that there was no information that came to me to alert me to any problems.
If it was something that a Minister did not know about, but there was a problem down there in the middle range of the Public Service, should the Minister and the Chief Minister go? I would love Mr Stanhope to get up and say in his summing-up speech that those are the new rules because, I have to say, if that were to be the case this Assembly would never work again as it would be simply impossible. The bases of ministerial responsibility are quite clear. If a Minister defrauds the system in any way, gets involved with travel rorts, Paddington bears, televisions or things like that, the Minister goes; no doubt. If a Minister ignores advice - if I had ignored advice that there may be a problem with the implosion - the Minister should be out. But if problems occur at the administrative levels of the Public Service that the Minister knows nothing about, any view that the Minister should then resign or be sacked is patently ridiculous. If anything positive can come out of this debate today, Mr Speaker, it will be if Mr Stanhope gets up and tells us what ministerial responsibility is in his view, what the rules are for this Government in the future or for any government in the future.
Mr Humphries: What the rules would be for his government.
MS CARNELL: That is the point. If he wants to be Chief Minister, and he obviously does as that is what no-confidence motions are about, he has to tell this Assembly that he would be willing to resign if there were a problem with the police department in the ACT, if there were a problem at Quamby, if there were a problem at the remand centre, if there were a problem in a hospital - if there were a problem anywhere in the Public Service and that problem was systemic.
What does "systemic" mean? The coroner said that it meant that the departments did not have clear sets of communication guidelines, that some people did not know what other people were doing. We are not talking about fraud or corruption; we are simply talking about administrative failures. If Mr Stanhope is clear that that is what he is talking about, heaven help this Assembly in the future, because no Minister would last more than one sitting. That is all it would take because of those rules. The rules would be that administrative failures in the Public Service that the Minister knew nothing about equal resignation or sacking. That is patently ridiculous. The responsibility of the Minister is to fix the problems, and that is what we are doing.
MR STANHOPE(Leader of the Opposition) (5.43), in reply: Mr Speaker, as has been said during the debate, on Sunday, 13 July 1997, just over two years ago, 100,000 Canberrans gathered on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin to put to rest the old Canberra Hospital. They were there, it has been alleged, to celebrate the event. They were there at the invitation of the ACT Government. Between 30,000 and 40,000 of them were near Lennox Gardens, a vantage point identified in the Chief Minister's media release as one