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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4914 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

governments are answerable to the Assembly and electors for the discharge of their responsibilities.

In the course of this sitting, Mr Stanhope has accused me of being "petty, shallow, politicking", "incredibly personal and nasty", "a source of poison", and of having a "desire to score some miserly, petty, little political point".

Mr Speaker, I am content to be judged by the electors on the depth or shallowness of my politicking. From time to time, though, people in this place might feel wounded by personal attacks, as Kate Carnell was when she was regularly accused of killing Katie Bender, or they might consider that criticism constitutes attack. But if it is about your actions as a minister, your policies, your public statements and not about your appearance, your relationships, your family and your business, then it is not personal; it is politics-and, if it is about your performance as a member in this place, it is fair game.

Chief Minister

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (10.32): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak to a press release put out by the Chief Minister earlier today that reads "Liberals veto Chief Minister's attendance at ministerial discussion on Indigenous affairs."It goes on indignantly to say:

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said it was staggering that the Liberal Party whip, Mrs Vicki Dunne, on behalf of the Liberal Party had today refused to give him a pair in the Legislative Assembly to enable him to attend the Ministerial Council on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

Mr Stanhope was due in Sydney this afternoon to meet and dine with all Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers responsible for Indigenous Affairs at their annual meeting.

"This veto makes it impossible for the Government to stay in touch with national developments in fundamentally important issues we face as a nation in addressing matters such as reconciliation, violence and the continuing disadvantage of Indigenous people in our community.

"I am appalled at the petty-minded, spiteful and obstructionist policies of the Liberal Party which would prevent me from carrying out my duties as Chief Minister", said Mr Stanhope.

There are a few factual errors in the press release. We have not stood in the path of the Chief Minister in carrying out his duties. One of his duties is in fact to attend the Assembly and to be available at question time. The pair was granted or offered to Mr Stanhope at 3.30, which, of course, would allow him to attend question time and offer him ample time to get to the ministerial council, which does not start until 9.30 am tomorrow morning-a small omission in his press release.

The other thing is that there is a dinner tonight, as is normal, and we all know about ministerial dinners. I understand the dinner was starting at 7.30. It is not unreasonable to leave Canberra at 3.30 to make a 7.30 dinner in Sydney if you are willing to make the effort. So the opposition will grant pairs as is reasonable, when we are provided with reasonable information, and give reasonable time for ministers, where appropriate, to

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