Page 3732 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005
the impact of anti-terrorism legislation in the ACT. Perhaps he should ask himself why this is so.
Mr Stanhope has clearly been caught flying solo again and should display the courage to admit that he is out of step with all of his state and territory Labor counterparts in the area of combating—hopefully the unlikely event of—a terrorist act in Australia. During the war, there was the little phrase, one among many: careless talk costs lives. How reckless was the Chief Minister’s behaviour! One has to question his motives and indeed what action he would consider if he was placed in the position of the Prime Minister, having to respond to such an unorthodox and completely unwarranted action. If the shoe were on the other foot and a member of this Assembly released confidential, sensitive or draft legislation that was entrusted to them by him as part of a consultative process, I have a fair suspicion that there would be total outrage, and the Chief Minister would be the first to stand up, with self-righteous indignation, calling for someone’s dismissal. So it is one rule for one and another for another. How hypocritical!
“Sovereignty of cabinet” were the words that the Chief Minister’s colleague in Victoria Mr Steve Bracks used to indicate some dissatisfaction with the actions of Mr Stanhope in clearly displaying no consideration for another level of government’s integrity and modus operandi. It is an interesting word, isn’t it: integrity? Where is this Chief Minister’s integrity? Whether or not it is within the Chief Minister’s rights, if he felt the need to satisfy his own perceived obligation to his electorate, to offer an in-confidence piece of draft legislation up for discussion is at the centre of his contempt for proper parliamentary procedure. That is what his action is: contemptible, simply contemptible.
Nobody is saying that people should not know what is going on and what will affect us. But the way in which this was done was despicable. By placing the draft document on a web site endorsed by himself as Chief Minister, he showed no consideration for the trust placed in him by another tier of government, and there would appear to have been an oversight as to how wide reaching his actions would be—the World Wide Web. This action was, as we know, an obvious attempt to massage his own ego and to continue on a path of manipulation and scheming that would appear to ultimately disrupt the goodwill that has, in general, been displayed by all other jurisdictions and the federal government on the very delicate issue of dealing with a serious upgrade of anti-terrorism laws in Australia.
His was a deliberate and culpable attempt to undermine recognised practice and procedures between state and territory and federal governments. It is a sad reflection on the ACT Assembly. It does not just affect Mr Stanhope; he seems to forget that with his cavalier manner. All 17 of us in this place become a laughing stock when this Chief Minister acts in this unconscionable way. Disappointingly, it reflects on the entire focus of the Assembly in attempting to convince Canberrans that it holds a place of relevance to the political, national and local sphere. This kind of action committed by the Chief Minister displays a level of arrogance and contempt for the role he has to play in ensuring that our nation remains a safe and secure society to live in. It shows contempt not only for us in the opposition but also for his own colleagues.
It has been demonstrated here by the Chief Minister’s own admission that his was a deliberate attempt to disrupt a process in which he was involved on a small scale—a role in the consultative period, which the federal government extended as a courtesy to