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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2733 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

In order to make his convoluted case, Mr Humphries said that there had been "tension between Mrs Burke and Mr Quinlan". The only tension existed after the remark. I have looked at the Hansard and Mrs Burke is not on the radar. I have listened to the audio recording and, yes, it is indistinct and I happily admit that if you were a Hansard reporter probably the best word you could have found for the noise you heard was "woman". Why I would call Mr Humphries a woman, I don't know. I have seen him in the Canberra Times with a pinny on making pink macaroons, but that is his habit, that is his choice.

If anybody bothered to read the Hansard they would see that there is no logic in the assertion that I addressed the remark to Mrs Burke. Forget all the rest. I am disappointed and I feel sorry for you, Mrs Burke, that you have been inveigled into this process. Both you and Mr Hird are in the background of the audio recording during the speech made by Mr Humphries. Mrs Burke is saying, "He should withdraw that. He said 'bloody fool'." Harold is also on the audio recording-not in Hansard-saying, "Yeah, bloody fool." I challenge anybody to go back and listen to the tape. If you do, you will hear those words. If a certain channel is played you will hear what was said by the two people behind Mr Humphries. I have requested Hansard-this will not be done in time for the purposes of this debate-to produce an elongated transcript of what happened so that we can know what was said. It is quite clear that what Mrs Burke heard was that I called the Chief Minister a "bloody fool". There are two points in that: one, that I was referring to the Chief Minister; and, two, the word she heard was "fool".

Mr Humphries: But you denied it.

MR QUINLAN: I do not claim to have said "fool" either. If you want to ask me to withdraw something, get it right. I cannot remember exactly what I said. I think I was going to swear at you and I said "condescending, bloody"-what you call a minced oath. I think I was going to say "wanker" but I am not sure. Certainly, if you listen to the three words "condescending, bloody woman", the last word is far less distinct than the other two. I concede that the nearest English word you could find to that noise-

Mrs Burke: You know what you said.

MR QUINLAN: But it is a noise rather than a word. Go and listen to the tape. If you listen to the background conversation you will hear Harold and Mrs Burke talking about Mr Quinlan and saying "bloody fool". I did not say that either-I think I actually stifled a naughty word.

I would like to stop at this point because I think this whole exercise is wasting the time of the Assembly. It is purely politics; it is grubby politics. I want to stand here now and apologise to Mrs Burke because I did in fact say to her in the stairway after this motion was circulated, "If you want to play grubby politics, I'll play it as well." I withdraw that because I do not intend to descend to the level of politics that you have descended to today.

MRS BURKE (7.53): Thank you, Mr Quinlan. I am glad that you brought up the issue in the stairway, and I accept your apology. However, you have brought this debate down to a very low level. You know exactly the spirit in which this matter has been raised. You know what you said and you will have to live with that.

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