Page 1853 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 17 June 2008
over the top a bit?” I said: “Yes, you did, mate. I think you did.” He said, “Okay, fair enough.” He could see when he made an error. He was certainly passionate. He could be aggressive. He could be difficult to deal with, but he was always able to see a good argument. He was always able to put aside any differences he might have had with someone for the better good, and ultimately in order to work for the benefit of the ACT.
Trevor became Chief Minister in the alliance government. As Zed has said, and quoting Gary at the funeral, it was a close-run thing. I was at that meeting. I, too, recall Dennis Stevenson and Trevor storming out. Trevor also ensured that we got as stable a first government as we possibly could by ensuring that we as an opposition voted for the Labor government to go in, I seem to recall, because some of the other groups did not want to.
Mr Berry: Only one of you.
MR STEFANIAK: Only one of us did; that is right. That was an interesting thing itself. I thank the Speaker for reminding me of that because I think that was part and parcel of ensuring that we got off to a totally non-chaotic start. It ensured that we had a government. Trevor then, of course, made no bones about the fact that he would hold the government to account.
About six to seven months later, in holding the then government to account, a coalition was formed with some quite remarkable people who, despite all the problems and hoo-ha at the time, fundamentally served the Assembly well—and in no small way because of Trevor’s ability to coalesce and work with very unlikely people, get the best out of them and work together. He spent a lot of time forming those links with his coalition partners, Bernard Collaery and the Residents Rally, and Craig Duby. Indeed, he had very much of a soft spot for Craig. I, too, found Craig to be one of the more able people in that First Assembly, and certainly as a minister, although he was certainly a very controversial character. So it was an interesting time.
It was an interesting time, too, because the ACT from 1986 had its funds cut by the federal government. Like all governments in this place, the government in the First Assembly had to face difficult times. It was a time when governments had to decide what was important and what the priorities were. Trevor was very good at that. If he got a good argument, he would have priority given to areas that deserved it. In difficult times he formulated one or two budgets particularly well when the territory was facing some significant economic issues. He put the public service and the Treasury on a very sound basis. In fact, I think one of his greatest legacies is to our public sector and to financial management.
The alliance government, unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on what point of view you had—collapsed. It collapsed over fundamental things like planning. There were also some residual problems in relation to school closures. The Liberal Party went through a little bit of turmoil there. I voted with my colleague Gary Humphries to form a new leadership duo. It worried me at the time. I thought, “Hello, this may not work.” This was typical of Trevor; he would say it to your face. He said: “You’re wrong. If you nail your colours to his mast, you will go down.” I said, “I’m sorry, mate; I promised and I’m doing that.” But I always appreciated the fact that