Page 887 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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and wilfully misleading the Assembly on a number of issues.” And it continues; it continues into this Assembly. He has been asked on several occasions to correct the record.

Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Smyth is again asserting that I am misleading the Assembly. He just said in his speech that I was censured for misleading the Assembly and then he used the words, “And it continues.” That is a clear accusation. It is unparliamentary. If they believe that I have misled the Assembly, I invite them now to move for the suspension of standing orders to try to censure me, Mr Speaker. The government is quite happy to have that debate and the government is quite happy for me, and I am quite happy as minister, to defend that and to show that this assertion is simply false. Mr Smyth is continuing to assert that I have misled the house when I have not.

MR SPEAKER: Order! I understand your point, Mr Corbell. Withdraw “it continues”, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Sorry, withdraw what?

MR SPEAKER: You said that Mr Corbell continues to do so.

MR SMYTH: I withdraw “Mr Corbell continues to do so”.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR SMYTH: Mr Corbell says that we can have a motion of no confidence or censure concerning him, but the government will not allow a debate on the very simple issue of whether or not we get to the basis of the facts on what this minister says. The minister has asserted on several occasions in the last couple of days that a six-month period of elective surgery was one of the best that we had seen, second best to only one, and yet when we confronted him on that we found out that actually seven months of figures were included in that number. He got it wrong. It is right to question what this minister says; but when a member has the temerity to stand and have a debate about it, this government shuts it down.

That is the thing that is wrong here. Mr Stanhope gets up and rails against the federal government and talks of attacks on the democracy of the ACT. Surely, under Mr Stanhope’s human rights legislation, people have the right to free speech. Where else but in their Assembly should they be able to take that right to its limit? Mrs Dunne has sought to question what Mr Corbell has said and this government has shut her down. That is why the suspension of standing orders should go through.

Mrs Dunne simply wants to bring to the attention of members the chronology of events and the shifting sands of the statements that Mr Corbell puts on the record. One, he does it without an apology, which is not the normal form for this place when you actually mislead or what you have said is not entirely accurate. When you realise that, you are obliged to come back in at the first available opportunity and apologise and correct. But we never get an apology out of this minister, Mr Speaker. He is always correcting, modifying and changing, and it is simply the right of Mrs Dunne to point that out. That is why the motion for the suspension of standing orders should go through.

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