Page 2697 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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Mr Smyth: It’s not what he said.

MR STANHOPE: That is what he said; that is his attitude. I wonder, in light of this motion and the statements we have heard from this mob over the last month or so, whether all of a sudden the ACT Treasury will get return cheques. “Dear Mr Quinlan, I return my cheque for the legal fees that you paid to defend me against these defamation acts, these wrongful dismissal acts.”

Mr Quinlan: By their own staff.

MR STANHOPE: By their own staff and their own people. I wonder whether the cheques are in the mail. I wonder whether this is the new way. I wonder whether I should move to amend those rules that apply to the payment of the legal bills of Liberal Party politicians in this place. Immediately they get into strife, they send the bill to the government. This is the convention under which we operate—the hypocrisy and the humbug, the extent to which public servants are just pawns in the political war. “We can damage the Chief Minister through this. Don’t worry about the rights; don’t worry about the reputations of public servants. They’re expendable; they’re disposable. We might be able to damage the Chief Minister through another censure motion.”

We crush and belittle our public servants through it, but at the end of the day we might just get a little bit of media attraction; we might actually gain some credibility; we might distract attention from our internal problems, our leadership challenges, the fact that three of the Leader of the Opposition’s staff refuse to declare loyalty to him, refuse to indicate that they believe he is the preferred Leader of the Opposition. These are the issues essentially at the heart of this censure motion today—a motion based on absolute humbug and hypocrisy.

Let me conclude, though, by repeating the point that I have made a number of times. I have the strongest empathy for those who continue to suffer as a result of the grievous loss they suffered in the fire. The government has supported them enormously and we will continue to do so. I have enormous empathy for their suffering and their grief, as a consequence of which, despite the advice we now receive from the territory’s counsel, that there are serious issues with the judgment—my advice is that the judgment is flawed, an appeal is justified and that appeal, if pursued, would potentially lead to an overturning of the judgment—and in the interests of concluding the matter, I have announced this morning that the government will not appeal the decision.

We have some regard to issues that the court raised in relation to perhaps the action having been pursued early. But we will not appeal. I think it is in the public interest to conclude the matter. The government will support the coronial process to conclusion and will provide every possible assistance to the coroner in doing that.

MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (11.04): This is 7½ minutes of smokescreen from the Chief Minister, who was called to account by his Assembly to answer for his actions. The man will be remembered as the Shane Warne of the Australian Capital Territory’s Assembly, the master of spin. This is a re-writing of

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