Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3642 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
have security of tenure in their employment, but instead rely on her. The once fearless and frank advice that Ministers could rely on was not given to her.
She knew that those people knew nothing about explosives but nevertheless acted on their advice. Mr Smyth, as is his want, and perhaps in an admiring imitation of the Deputy Chief Minister, relied on selective quotation from the coroner's report to rebut my arguments. He tried to Gary us. Mr Speaker, he accused us of selective use of the report and I should suggest to you, Mr Speaker, I am happy, given the opportunity, to read into the Hansard, the full 657 pages of Mr Madden's report, because they prove my case unequivocally. The coroner condemns the Chief Minister in his criticism of her and her administration.
Mr Smyth maintained that I said WorkCover was responsible for the death. I did not. I never said or suggested any such thing at any stage. From the outset, I acknowledged that the coroner had dealt with the criminal legal aspects arising from the inquest. But quite simply, WorkCover's performance was so deficient that, as the coroner said, the end result was that there was practically no regulatory supervision of the use of explosives on Acton Peninsula.
Mr Humphries' contribution to this debate was one of deliberate, and quite usual these days, obfuscation. His attack on Mr Kaine was a disgrace. He attempted to run a sub judice defence with a warning that we should be careful in what we said, in case we prejudiced potential court proceedings. Mr Humphries issued his warning at 3.30, well into the debate this afternoon. Surely, if he were serious, he would have leapt to his feet as I was speaking at 10.30 this morning. It was a derisory attempt. In his rebuttal, Mr Humphries deliberately blurred the two themes of the coroner's report, the criminal/legal and the administrative.
I stated at the outset this morning that we accepted the coroner's findings in relation to the criminal/legal issues and were concentrating on the administrative issues. I was explicit about that. I made the distinction, and others in the debate have reinforced it. The coroner found Mrs Carnell had no direct or personal responsibility on the first ground. I said that explicitly. On the second, that of the systemic failings of government administration, he was silent as to responsibility. That is what we are debating, the second aspect.
Mr Humphries asked what was our test of the standard of ministerial responsibility. And the clearest answer is, of course, proximity. In the cases Mr Stefaniak raised, deaths at Quamby and the remand centre, the Ministers involved were well removed from the incidents. The public servants involved were well down the chain. We all know this. We know the difference. But in the case of the Chief Minister in relation to the implosion, the proximity is stark. We are talking about the head of the Chief Minister's Department. We are talking about senior executives in her department, with direct access to the Chief Minister. We are talking about the Chief Minister's media adviser; her personal staff; the staff in her office.
Mr Moore ran the lie, again, that Labor had made up its mind about this motion within half an hour of the coroner releasing his report. This is simply wrong, once again. I did