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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4177 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

action. Regardless of the outcome, I am more conscious perhaps than I have been previously of my responsibilities in that regard.

MR STEFANIAK (11.32): Mr Speaker, as I think I indicated when we spoke about tabling the committee report, this is a very serious situation. It is one of only two findings of contempt that have come before this Assembly. I do not necessarily follow at great length what happens in other parliaments, but my understanding is that, again, findings of contempt do not occur often there.

The House of Representatives Practice, from pages 706 through to 708, outlines things that may constitute contempt. It cites May's Parliamentary Practice, stating that contempt may be "disrespectful conduct in the presence of either House or a committee". In failing to provide information to the Estimates Committee when he should have, Mr Corbell was clearly guilty of disrespectful conduct before that committee. If the Assembly does want to retain respect for its committee systems, it should treat disrespect of its committees as a very serious issue.

As I said, this is only the second finding of contempt that we have had. The other was last year. In fact, we seemed to go for about four assemblies before an issue of contempt cropped up, and that involved a staffer, Mr Strokowsky. In that case, the committee wanted a prompt and unreserved apology for his conduct, then did not want to take the matter any further and made no further recommendation. Mr Strokowsky resigned his position and left the employ of Mr Humphries and the Liberal Party at that particular time; so it is a very, very serious matter.

In backing Mr Smyth's motion, I would point out to members that the history of parliaments, and of this little parliament, shows us that this action does not have to be fatal to Mr Corbell's career. We have had motions of no confidence before, in the first Assembly. Yes, Mr Quinlan, at times that was referred to as the House of Farce. We did have three governments. There was a motion of no confidence in Chief Minister Rosemary Follett in December 1989, and there was a motion of no confidence in Chief Minister Trevor Kaine in June 1991, both of which were successful. Mrs Carnell was subject to motions of no confidence. I think one was reduced to a censure but then, facing a motion of no confidence, she resigned.

You, yourself, Mr Speaker, were subject to a successful motion of no confidence. However, you went on to be deputy leader of the opposition, leader of the opposition, and now Speaker. It is clear that there is some history of this most serious of matters, misconduct by members.

Yes, we have had a number of successful censures, too, though not very many in this Assembly-obviously, numbers are always crucially important in parliament-there have been several successful censures in previous assemblies. I am sure that there have been several successful motions in relation to the kind of amendment proposed by Mrs Cross.

However, this is a grave matter. Members should not resile from accepting that fact. It is a very, very serious matter when an Assembly committee indicates that a member of the Assembly, a minister, is guilty of contempt. It is rare, thankfully. I note what Mr Corbell

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