Page 2709 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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I think that is getting the issues confused. The problem was not necessarily the no comment response; it was that members of the committee considering the draft variation had a conflict of interest. The conflict of interest was not in relation to them having membership of the Labor Club—as they say, many Canberrans have membership of the Labor Club—it was that both Labor committee members were former board members of the Labor Club, so they obviously have a fairly close relationship with the Labor Club. The last time I checked, the average Canberran had not been on the board of Labor Club. I do not think it is a particularly wide membership. The other issue obviously would be in relation to donations.

The report goes on:

The fact that the Labor Club supports the Labor Party does not mean that Government members of the Committee have a direct pecuniary interest in this proposed variation. Donations to the party are managed separately to campaign funds so there is no direct pecuniary benefit for members.

In my opinion that is being quite cute. The fact is that the Labor Club is the major donor to the Labor Party, as you would be well aware, Mr Speaker. I think half the funding, or more, each year comes in from the Labor Club to the Labor Party. I think several hundred thousand dollars came in for the last election from the Labor Club. So the interests of each of the Labor members and Labor candidates are directly tied to whether funding comes from the Labor Club to the Labor Party. Their chances of re-election are no doubt influenced by money coming from the Labor Club. It is a bit cute to say there is no direct pecuniary interest. Clearly, there is a significant interest on the part of the Labor members of the committee in relation to the money that comes from the Labor Club every year.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, I direct your attention to standing order 156 in relation to conflict. The last sentence reads:

Any question concerning the application of this standing order—

that is, the standing order on conflict of interest—

—shall be decided by the Assembly.

I think hurling accusations across the chamber probably flies in the face of that resolution, or that standing order, I should say.

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In summary, I disagree with much of the justification in the report and particularly paragraph 1.10. As I said, most of the report was devoted to justifying the declared possible conflicts of interest and I do not think the case has been made very strongly.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (11.54): As committee chair, I would like to advise the Assembly on the process that the committee undertook in consultation on draft variation 258, the Belconnen Labor Club. Quite contrary to the statements made by Mr Seselja, when the committee first met to discuss DV 258 both I, as chair, and

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