Page 3714 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005
the Attorney-General and a lawyer—we get an absolute breach of the basic tenet of confidentiality. This says to the local population, the local workers—the largest employers of whom are the ACT and the federal public service—which confidentiality does not matter. For example, you can make a judgment that you think is for the good of the people and, in years to come, people will be quoting it. I suspect that the memorial the Chief Minister wants is the Stanhope defence: I thought it was for civil liberties; I thought it was for the good of the people to reveal it. There are ways and practices that cover a situation where there is a problem and this Chief Minister has stepped outside of those ways and practices.
The private sector understands confidentiality. The private sector knows that, when you give something in confidence, it has to be respected because there is no reasonable basis for ongoing negotiation when you cannot trust the other party. That is the problem; that is what Mr Stanhope has achieved. He has put the ACT in a position where people will question whether or not you can trust the ACT, starting right from the top with the Chief Minister. Who in future will trust the ACT? Every time they go to COAG, will the Prime Minister and the premiers be looking at the Chief Minister and asking, “Can we trust him?” I think the answer will be, “No, we cannot trust him. We gave him this in confidence and he broke that confidence.”
Mr Bracks said, “I would not have done it. I think it is important to respect the sovereignty of cabinet.” And it is obviously important to respect the sovereignty of those meetings. They should be able to have free and frank discussions inside the meeting so that, where possible, consensus can be achieved. If they do not want to be part of the consensus the decent, honest thing expected of members at those meetings is to say so on the spot. You do not agree on the spot, give everybody the nod and then do your own thing. That is simply not the way it is done. Mr Speaker, you have been at those ministerial meetings and councils where so much agrees on everybody playing their part.
It is interesting that, in this burst of honesty and openness, he thought he had to do it. Mr Solly asked the Chief Minister on the ABC yesterday whether, given that he believes that things should be open where they affect people, the Chief Minister would release the legal advice that he received in the instance of the coronial inquiry. Mr Stanhope replied that, of course you do not do that; it is the norm that governments do not release legal advice. Governments, premiers and chief ministers do not break the solidarity of agreements when they have been done.
We pick and choose which bits of the conventions we think apply to us. It is this growing arrogance from the Chief Minister, this growing number of displays of his lack of judgment, where he picks and chooses which rules apply to him, that brings the people of the ACT into ridicule, into disrepute. The question can then be asked: what other legislation is lying around? What other urgent bills are going to be put in this place? If you have the drafts there now, Mr Chief Minister, put them on the table now. If your concern is that people need time to think about these matters, post them to your website so that everyone can see them.
We are concerned at the number of times over the past year you and your government have come into this place and put urgent legislation on the table that has been passed two days or a week later. This gets back to judgment; it gets back to trust; it gets back to keeping your word. We had the example of Jon Stanhope the lion, who was going to