Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 June 2008) . . Page.. 1914 ..
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (2.51): Mr Speaker, no-confidence motions are amongst the gravest and most serious motions that we, as a deliberative body, can consider. We have no governor in the ACT. The self-government act dictates when and how governments are formed. Under that act the passage of a no-confidence motion means that the position of Chief Minister is spilled and the Assembly must effectively elect a new Chief Minister and a new government. That demonstrates the seriousness of this motion.
We have had countless motions of this type in this Assembly but, tellingly, none since the earliest days of self-government have passed. As members we need to consider the gravity of this motion and what it means and, if those countless others fell, why this one should pass.
Through this no-confidence motion brought by the opposition the Assembly is being asked to consider two very simple but serious questions. Firstly, it is being asked to consider what the appropriate standards for a Chief Minister or a government are in fulfilling their duties to the ACT community and to this parliament. Secondly, it is being asked to decide whether this Chief Minister has lived up to those standards.
In short, debates in this place and other Westminster parliaments, as well as countless inquiries by oversight bodies in the ACT, Australia and the commonwealth, have made it clear that ministers and governments should observe the highest standards of propriety, probity and responsibility at all times while always exercising their powers and undertaking their duties in the public interest.
Motions of want of confidence in the Chief Minister by both sides have traditionally dealt with matters of grave importance. The opposition today seeks to move a no-confidence motion in the Chief Minister, not over a death or a misappropriation or even a clear act or omission. They do so regarding a process that has followed the normal course and, even more incredibly for the purposes of this debate, is not even complete yet.
No decision has been made, no event has occurred, no project or building has been approved, let alone built. In any other year this normally lazy opposition would not even have contemplated such a motion. Today the opposition seeks to argue that a no-confidence motion regarding a process not yet complete for a building years from being built—if it is—should pass. Many others have said it, and I know many other people believe it: it is a stunt.
It is reasonable for the community to have a concern over projects of this size and it is reasonable to have debates on these issues. That is what the planning process is about. That is why the government has not yet made a decision on this project. That is why we have commissioned a health impact assessment with a panel comprising the Chief Health Officer, experts in public health or environmental health and a community representative.
We as a community and as a government are all anxious to ensure that this project only goes ahead once all matters have been taken into account and appropriate