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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3268 ..

MR QUINLAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Rather than refer to a previous debate, I'll refer to an article in the Canberra Times which has the headline "Quinlan denies unauthorised spending claim". I think, to some extent, that has been an indicator of a trend-an unfortunate trend, I think. Some of the headlines of articles in recent times have probably overstated the import or the salaciousness of the story contained therein.

I think the important point is that the Leader of the Opposition, again-and I will say this again-has made a statement in the public forum which leads the listener, the hearer, to think, "Ah, something wrong."These stories, of course, have a one-day shelf life. If you do correct them, generally it's a day too late, as the moment has passed.

I have noticed of recent times that it's not just once and it's just not accidental. There appears to be a succession of misquotes or quotes out of context, in particular but not exclusively, from the Leader of the Opposition-this being one of them. This was part of a press release that went out, pointing up this particular issue. It was sufficient for Mr Smyth to make an issue of it.

As Barry Smith once said, you don't chide an invertebrate for having no backbone. I don't have a major issue with Mr Smyth because he, apparently, has a standard of "you get away with what you get away with".

Mr Smyth: You're tetchy about this.

MR QUINLAN: Yes, I am, actually, absolutely. The point I wish to make-and I wish to repeat this; I think I made this point last week, the last sitting week of the Assembly-is that I am concerned that occasionally in our local media there isn't some verification process, at least the minimum amount of verification to check the veracity of what's implied in a statement.

As it so happens, Mr Smyth, I think, as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee-I'm not sure-referred this matter to the Auditor-General after the fact, after the press release had gone out of course, after some sort of imputation had been made. This place occasionally, and particularly that side of the house, oozes self-righteousness from time to time; we're fairly dripping with indignation when there is some challenge to their particular integrity.

However, I do believe that it is time that there is an objective analysis and commentary on what seems to be a growing practice. It's a fairly snide practice. Nevertheless, it does, I think, reflect upon individual integrity and, as a result of reflecting on individual integrity, it does reflect on this place as a whole.

Let me assure the house and all of those people that read that article in the Canberra Times, assiduously, of course, that the Auditor-General has written back to Mr Smyth-copies have been provided to my department-giving the appropriation bill and its processing the all clear. I rise to inform the house of that, in particular because I doubt very much that Mr Smyth would have the personal integrity to stand and do it himself, even though he has put out the press release.

Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: is it appropriate to reflect on the personal integrity of members in that way?

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