Page 3920 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005
Mr Corbell makes the point that the convention is that this is very much a matter for the opposition to determine, and on that basis the government will support the amendment and the motion. But this is the time and the occasion for the Leader of the Opposition to fully explain, and it is a pity that he has not taken the opportunity yet to do so; perhaps he will in closing the debate. I urge the Leader of the Opposition to do that. The Assembly and the people of Canberra have a right to hear, and deserve some explanation of, the circumstances—at this stage rather murky circumstances—that led to the need for the Leader of the Opposition to so publicly and decisively censure, and in a way publicly humiliate, his colleague by removing from her her responsibilities as manager of opposition business and opposition whip, and now completing the trifecta of punishments by removing her from her position as a member of this particular committee.
The circumstances, as I say, are currently murky, but they certainly are of real public interest and concern. Mrs Dunne is being disciplined for leaking security information from her office. I think there are a number of issues there. What was the information? How did Mrs Dunne come by it? On what basis did she leak it? Was it appropriate or inappropriate that it be leaked? Why, if it was of such significance or sensitivity, did she have it in the first place as a member of the opposition, and to whom did she leak it? And was it a crime deserving of this very, public punishment and humiliation? I think those are issues that the Assembly should be advised of, and that the broader community should have some understanding of.
The matter is of such significance to Mrs Dunne that she has invited ACT Policing into her office to investigate the matter; I presume that undertaking by Mrs Dunne has been implemented. Police being invited into this building to investigate matters raised publicly by the Leader of the Opposition—that rather extreme circumstance of ACT Policing being invited into this building to investigate a matter that the Leader of the Opposition believes to be of such significance that he must discipline one of his frontbench members in this way—really is a matter that deserves fuller explanation.
I believe this Assembly has a right to understand the basis on which the police have been asked to investigate matters concerning the opposition. I reiterate the points made by my colleagues in relation to this move. To be fair about it, we all do understand very well— and I am sure the community does—the basis on which Mr Smyth, with the forceful, decisive action that he has taken over the last few days, has today been forced by his party room to back down. It really has come to a serious position for the Assembly, and certainly for the governance of the territory, when within the space of two days the Leader of the Opposition has been humiliated and humbled by his party room in this way. He cannot have decisions that he took and motions that he moved, as recently as two days ago, debated and brought to finality because his party room revolted.
Mr Corbell: Dead man walking.
MR STANHOPE: Yes, it is a classic; it is a long two-day dead-man walk from Tuesday to Thursday when a motion moved on Tuesday, but not put, is forced in this very public way to be amended. When the party room is prepared to embarrass its leader in this way, it really is a very strong signal of the fact that support has collapsed. That is not in the