Page 2437 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 1 July 2008

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If Mr Corbell, in his stunt today, is willing to cast one judgement on Mr Stefaniak but is not willing to reveal his source on the other then this can only be seen for the stunt that it is. Not only will it be a stunt; it will be a gutless stunt by a desperate government whose arrogance has now caught up with them.

It is very important, I believe, that my amendment gets up. It will be a very important test of the credibility of the government as to whether or not they have an equal standard for all. Mr Stefaniak spoke about his human rights and the Labor Party being the party of equality. If anybody here knows, perhaps they could stand up now and tell the Assembly how Mr Corbell came by this knowledge. Somebody here might like to apologise to the Assembly, as Mr Stefaniak has done, for the leaking of this information. But I suspect that will not happen because what we have here is a dual standard. It is the standard of arrogance; it is the standard that majority government brings to one part of the house. It is a standard which they seek to impose on another part of the house.

I do not believe that Mr Stefaniak has done anything wrong. If a letter is drafted in consultation with the secretariat staff who assist all of the committee and who, in particular, assist the chair, and do so very well—and I compliment all the staff of the committees, because we have seen in the estimates process over the last couple of weeks the level of dedication and professionalism that they bring to this task—and if this is an oversight then it is an oversight and it is not worthy of being sent to a privileges committee.

If there is some blurring of the lines of privilege, which I doubt, perhaps we need—and, indeed, it is the recommendation of the estimates committee—some greater guidance to committees, and in particular to committee chairs, on the conduct of committees in this place. That is perhaps a sign of the maturing of this place and maybe that is a necessary recommendation that you, Mr Speaker, through the committee system, will have to consider.

But with regard to this motion, this is a stunt; this is a case of third time lucky. This is desperate stuff from a desperate government that are seeking to put the spotlight on others rather than themselves. Rather than apologising, rather than being honest, open and accountable, as they promised and rather than hiding behind commercial and cabinet-in-confidence, perhaps they should provide documents which they have sought to suppress and hide, and perhaps they should assist the committee in getting to the nub of what it is inquiring into, instead of delaying the process and hiding documents which could reasonably be put into the public realm, or at least given to the committee in camera.

That is at the heart of why Mr Stefaniak wrote the letter. He sought to clarify requests that had already been made by the committee, on behalf of the committee, in the committee, to the minister regarding documents they had not received. I do not see what the crime is in putting that in writing. This is simply a stunt from an arrogant minister in particular who is very much under the pump for his handling of the emergency services portfolio, the transfer of things like the headquarters to the airbase, and his failure to answer, and particularly to allow officials to answer, questions in a committee.

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