Page 196 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004
MR STEFANIAK: I move:
That this Assembly expresses a lack of confidence in the Attorney-General.
I had hoped that events would be somewhat different—but they are not. I also indicate to the Assembly, especially to newer members who might not be aware of the procedure, that this is a motion only in relation to want of confidence in the Attorney-General. It does not relate to any other roles the Chief Minister has. I can read the numbers as well as most people but if, by some amazing miracle, the motion were to be successful it would simply mean he would no longer be Attorney-General. You might get a guernsey, Mr Hargreaves.
The opposition moves this with some reluctance, but we have seen a certain extraordinary set of circumstances here in relation to the matter now before the Assembly. I will mention several other matters that have occurred today which I think reinforce this motion. It relates not only to the matters that we have been debating in relation to the coronial inquest and the appeal before the Supreme Court but also to a number of other matters.
Today we have seen the government attempt to gag debate and the opposition not being given proper rein to put its case fully before the Assembly. Two days into a new government—a majority government for the first time in the territory’s history—that does not augur at all well for this Assembly or for open and accountable government; far from it. In fact, I read with interest the Canberra Times article of Saturday, 16 October when Mr Stanhope said that fears about a majority government were unfounded, that we had nothing to fear from a majority government.
It is interesting that in that article Ros Dundas, the then Democrat member, said that a majority government would become uncontrollable. She said there was a risk of the federal outcome being repeated in the ACT—because she did not like John Howard—and the Stanhope government being elected with an outright majority. The attorney, in his capacity as Chief Minister, accused the minor parties of running a scare campaign and said, “I think there is an essential nonsense in this that politicians cannot be trusted with a majority. There is nothing to be feared. In fact, it’s what occurs more often than not, so it is a furphy, something of a scare campaign, and the campaign that is being run is a self-interested campaign by the Greens, Democrats and independents.”
Well, I think the events of today—and, indeed, the events of yesterday with committees, as Mr Seselja said, and issues like finishing at 6, and this matter we have just dealt with—indicate that the territory does have something to fear from this majority Labor government. Already we are seeing very arrogant actions by this government, by the attorney and by his government, and that is very concerning in the ACT. He did not get to move a motion, and we did not deign to move an amendment to the matter we have just dealt with. But there is an interesting paragraph that reinforces this point, and I will now read this in relation to the matter regarding the coronial inquest.