Page 2093 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008

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MR SPEAKER: Just withdraw it.

MRS DUNNE: I withdraw. Now, Mr Speaker, I will give an exposition of what happened and then members can make up their own minds. (Second speaking period taken.) The Chief Minister received a letter from the chair of the committee which said: “Dear Mr Stanhope, These things have happened. Can you please return to the Assembly between 10.30 and 2.30 on 16 June?” The Chief Minister came down, all guns blazing, and said: “I am here till midday. My officials will not stay one second longer than I will because from 10.30 to 12 was the only time that my office was told.”

When he was pushed on that he said again that his office was told that he was wanted from 10.30 until 12 and he was not going to stay any longer. He got up on his high horse and said, “If I have to stay any longer we will have to cancel Christmas.” No, it was not Christmas. He said: “We will have to cancel cabinet for the day and you could not possibly expect that to happen. I am the Chief Minister. How dare you treat me like this!”

It was a pretty good show by someone who obviously did not want to be there and was going to be antagonistic for the day and it was a good way of getting him pepped up so that he could be cranky and angry for the day. But the clear facts are these. The chair of the committee—one of his own colleagues who stood up here yesterday and said that she had the greatest faith in his integrity—wrote to him in very clear terms. The hours for which he was required to attend the estimates were in bold.

When he came down, quite to the contrary of that, he said, “My office was told that I was wanted from 10.30 until noon.” That is in clear contravention of the letter, which the chair had in front of her at the time. It was a pointless exercise but showed the character of a person who serially does this sort of thing. He gets up on his high horse and peps himself up because he wants to have a fight. He felt that he needed to have a fight and this was a good way of getting started. That may or may not be considered misleading. I obviously cannot say that, but members can make up their own minds.

Then we had the whole spectacle. The reason we came back was because the Chief Minister sat there and let officials tell the committee things that were palpably untrue, and they had to come back and correct the record. The most disturbing thing about that is that one of those officials, the acting director of the Land Development Agency, told the committee one thing, and when I went back to check because I had heard something different the previous day this official was just about bullied. He was called back into a huddle and all sorts of people spoke to him in barely concealed whispers, waving fingers at him, while another official told me why he was mistaken in what he had said and why I was mistaken in what I had heard.

The sum total of that was that the acting director of the Land Development Agency turned to me in a state of high embarrassment and said: “Look, I am really sorry. I must have made a mistake. I was reading my brief, but that must be wrong. I am very sorry.” I have seen this man’s work over 10 or 12 years and I think he is a man of the highest integrity. A sign of his integrity was that he went back and checked the record and found out that what he told me the first time was right and what he was bullied

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