Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4202 ..
Mr Hargreaves: Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. That question calls for an opinion.
MR CORBELL: I do not recall Mr Wason calling for me to be sacked as anything, Mr Speaker.
Mr Stanhope: Mr Speaker, I think that the only sacking asked for was by Mrs Dunne in calling for Terry Snow to be sacked from the Bushfire Recovery Taskforce. I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
Minister for Health
Motion of want of confidenceDebate resumed.
MR SPEAKER: The question is that Mrs Cross's amendment be agreed to.
MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (3.11): Mr Speaker, speaking to the amendment, it is a shame that we may have to downgrade our understanding of the seriousness of contempt. I understand what Mrs Cross is attempting to do here but I think to say that we have "grave concern"that a minister of this Assembly has been found guilty of contempt by the Privileges Committee is to understate the matter. Of course we are gravely concerned that he has been found guilty of contempt, but it is a question of the punishment fitting the crime. In all other jurisdictions, to be found guilty of contempt, particularly as a minister, warrants a far more severe punishment than the slap over the wrist that "grave concern"is. Indeed, in other jurisdictions in the past the precedent is that ministers actually resign, and they resign honourably before they are forced to do so. But it is apparent that we might not get to the stage of forcing Mr Corbell to resign.
I want to reiterate to members the importance of what we do in each jurisdiction on the issue of precedence. This importance was borne out for me particularly at a recent meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Bangladesh. You would think that a group of politicians going to Bangladesh would probably have minimal impact. But I suspect it has enormous impact because the jurisdictions compare what each other does. The jurisdictions note what goes on in each house of assembly, parliaments and upper houses, because it does affect them, because it does lead to change, because it does influence, because it does send a message.
If we send a message today that the first minister in the 14 years of this Assembly to be found guilty of contempt by a committee of his peers, including a member of his own party, is worthy of only "grave concern"then we will be letting down parliamentary process around the world. We will get some chuckles from the far side on that, but that is the nature of Westminster. If you respect Westminster, that is the effect we have on each other.
I am acutely aware now of how important it was that in Bangladesh, for instance, we had discussions on how to improve process and government procurement, how to defeat corruption, how to build up economies in small jurisdictions, and how to address the