Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2430 ..
appear that the committee had not actually requested that information at the time that Mr Stefaniak wrote to me.
That is a serious matter. If it is true, it undermines the proper authority of committees in this place. It undermines the confidence that I and other ministers can have in requests made by committee chairs if those requests are not duly authorised by the committee. I think it is appropriate that we appoint this committee to inquire into whether or not Mr Stefaniak has acted with or without the authority of the committee in making this serious request and whether or not, if he has, indeed, acted without the authority of the committee, this constitutes a breach of privilege by Mr Stefaniak. Clearly, if members purport to be acting on behalf of an Assembly body and they have no authority or resolution of the committee to do so, then that is a very serious matter.
Mr Speaker, that is the intent of this motion today. I make no final judgement about whether or not Mr Stefaniak has acted without the authority of the committee, but there would appear to be sufficient doubt for that matter to be investigated. Indeed, Mr Stefaniak’s answers, when I raised the matter with him in the public hearing and a couple of days after the date of his letter, would seem to suggest that that was the case, although it is unclear from the advice he gave me at the time.
It is wrong for members to assert they are acting with the authority of an Assembly inquiry when the Assembly committee conducting that inquiry has not authorised the actions taken by the chair. That is the matter that needs to be determined. Those are the issues that we need to get to the bottom of. That is why I think that you, Mr Speaker, have quite rightly recognised that this matter does warrant precedence in allowing me to move this motion. I commend to members the establishment of this committee so that we can get to the bottom of what occurred in this matter. I commend the motion to members.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (10.42): Firstly, might I say, Mr Speaker, that I am somewhat appalled—I just had no idea that this was occurring. I would have thought that natural justice and common decency would mean that I would have been told about this after it had been referred through you to start with. The first I heard about it was that I was told in my office to get down here quickly because the Attorney-General was moving some motion in relation to setting up a committee of inquiry into something I have done or not done. I am, frankly, quite appalled that a government that tries to pride itself on the issue of human rights has totally denied basic procedural fairness in relation to this to start with.
The government obviously has the numbers to do whatever it likes in terms of setting up any witch-hunt, Star Chamber, kangaroo court or whatever. If you want to a fight, you are going to get. It is indicative of your arrogant attitude to things in this chamber. I have absolutely no problems with talking to any sort of committee about anything I may or may not have done, Mr Corbell.
I am appalled that I found out about this only when you started to move the motion. I would have thought that, given that this is supposedly important enough as to warrant precedence over all matters, you would have had the common courtesy and decency