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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4186 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The issue before us is whether or not this Assembly believes that we should put on the record our feelings about the committee's finding of contempt. I believe that a motion of no confidence or a motion of censure, if passed, calls for further action on the part of the minister and the ministry. The committee made it quite clear that, while they agreed that a contempt had been committed, no further action was required.

Contempt is contempt and I believe that contempt has been committed in this case. However, as with any crime, there are different degrees of punishment. Not everybody who commits the same crime commits it in the same circumstances, with the same history or with the same surrounding incidents. That is why we have in our court system the ability to hand down different levels of punishment, be that through fines or jail sentences. I think that is an important reference to make.

The Assembly is not a court of law but we can recognise that there are different punishments, depending on how crimes are committed and when they are committed. Is this a contempt for which asking the minister to step down is a worthy punishment? I do not believe so. After reading the Hansard of the Estimates Committee and questioning the minister through the committee process-and I urge all members who are interested in this to read the transcript of the Privileges Committee and what the minister said under our questioning-I believe that a contempt has taken place, but it is not one for which this Assembly should pass a motion of a lack of confidence in the minister.

I am quite supportive, however, of a motion of grave concern, that this Assembly puts on the record that a contempt has taken place and we say that this is of concern. It does not require the minister to resign, but I think it requires the minister, and all ministers and all members of this Assembly, to consider their actions in relation to committees. That is what the report called for.

The committee put its view forward and now the Assembly is debating its view on the matter. I am happy to support the Assembly's recording its grave concern about a contempt being found. I hope against hope that this debate does make people think about their actions in relation to this Assembly and to committees, that we can have reasoned debate in the future and that committees can work freely to investigate the issues before them.

MR PRATT (12.10): Mr Speaker, Mr Corbell has treated the Assembly with very serious contempt. He refused to provide answers to the committee on hospital waiting list numbers. That is a fundamental question. His actions reflect his lack of respect, not only for the people of Canberra, but for the elected members of this Assembly. His inexperience and arrogance have shown the Assembly that Mr Corbell has no right to hold a portfolio in the ACT, or any jurisdiction, considering he has no respect for the system and people who have trusted him with this portfolio and all of his portfolios.

I will turn to Mr Quinlan's exercise in smoke and mirrors. Mr Quinlan's call for a time line from Mr Smyth on the framing of this motion this morning was a pathetic attempt to distract this place from the essence of this very serious issue. Mr Quinlan's statement that this issue was trivial and smacks of petty politics is indeed a stark example of Mr Quinlan's contempt for proper process in the Assembly. I echo Mrs Cross's criticism of Mr Quinlan's attempts, which clearly illustrate hypocrisy.

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