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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3619 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

particularly damaging to the lives and welfare of those members of Liberal Party staff who did do something and who, as a result of doing something, have effectively been hounded out of this place and are now on extended sick leave. A range of issues will continue to be of enormous significance.

The government will take the time to read this report. We will digest it. We will read Mr Smyth's explanation of the events, and we will digest that. We will determine a formal response.

MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services) (11.27): Mr Speaker, the report is damning of certain actions by a senior Liberal staffer. But it is still a disappointing document. It fails to enforce necessary high standards for this Assembly. More damming today is the Liberals' pathetic effort to dissemble, distract, obfuscate-a ramble to avoid the issue. Again, they have displayed no principles, no standards. People are saying it was only passive receipt of emails. If you think so, read paragraph 3.47 of the report.

The report says that a contempt has occurred. It acknowledges how serious that is. The conclusions are clear and I think generally supported by all members of the committee. Mr Strokowsky received, by whatever means, emails meant for me. I never got them. He did not tell me. He did not say there was a problem that needed fixing. More than that, he opened them, read them, downloaded them and distributed them. The committee found that that is a gross contempt.

Ms Tucker's speech was strong, but I find that for this most serious breach the action proposed in response is weak, inadequate. What is the sanction? A prompt and unreserved apology. An apology a year after the event-as easy and as minor as that. With the government and members, I will examine the report in detail, but it is clear the punishment does not fit the crime.

It remains now for Mr Strokowsky, Mr Humphries, the Liberal opposition and others to determine what enforcement is necessary to uphold high standards in this place.

MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (11.30): Mr Speaker, it does appear as if we are getting into a debate about this report before members who were not on the committee have had a chance to read the report. I hope that that will not be the case. I hope members will take this report away and read it and consider it before comments or decisions are made about what action should be taken in response to it.

I want to make a couple of comments. This report makes a very serious finding against a member of the staff of the opposition. I want to correct the Chief Minister with respect to one matter. The committee was told, and in fact reported in its report as far as I can see, that the staff member concerned was a staff member of a number of members of the opposition, not merely of the Leader of the Opposition.

We will have a look and see what the report says in its entirety, but it makes a very serious finding about the staff member. It is a matter that all members of the Assembly, including members of the opposition, deserve to take seriously and consider seriously. I will do so in conjunction with my colleagues. I will look at both the majority report and the dissenting report of Mr Smyth.

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