Page 2814 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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“Witch-hunt” is the term that Mrs Burke used. It is rather a strong term because no specific individual has been cited, I believe, in the context of when this was first passed, in the code of conduct. I had leave on that day; my father was close to death. I know that whether you are here or not the bills are passed. We pass laws and they are binding on our community. We adhere to whatever codes we pass for ourselves. Had I been here, I certainly would have taken the opportunity to express the same concerns I have today.

It is time that we as a parliament essentially accept that we have come of age in this territory. Self-government is here to stay, whether the people of Canberra like it or not. We should have enough faith in our legislators managing the affairs in their office. If they cannot, be it on their own heads. Be it on the head of the member in the electorate if people think they have misused their office and are simply hiring family members as part of some sinecure arrangement to feather their own nest.

I have heard a string of names of members in this place who have hired relatives and have been accused of misusing their position. I do not believe that is appropriate. I know, for example, that Mrs Dunne had a member of her family employed—maybe more than one. I know that when I was in the Liberal Party her husband was a very significant contributor to policy ideas and I know that he continued to provide advice. Although it was before my time, I would have hardly seen that as some sort of cosy arrangement that suited; he was a very qualified individual.

As I have said, there are examples in the federal parliament. In 1974, when the commonwealth resolved to hire staff for members and senators beyond the electorate secretary, quite a number of members and senators on both sides of politics allocated those funds to their spouse because they believed that they had to carry much of the work of their parliamentary office and be involved in electoral activities. My wife does that. She does not get paid for it. She turns up to many events. I see the Chief Minister and Mrs Stanhope at many events. Mrs Stanhope does not get paid for that. I certainly would not begrudge a member saying, “I am going to have my wife involved in my office so that she is across all of the issues and she can reinforce my communication with my constituency.”

You can dream up many laws and controls on members to address perceived conflicts. The Clerk has said to me in the past that sometimes I wear the carpet out in his office declaring all manner of things in my declaration. I have always taken a view of being very careful on those matters—maybe overly so. That is the way I tend to operate. Others might be a bit more relaxed about hospitality and the like; that is their call. The system is there; it is transparent. People can make something of matters if they so choose.

I believe that the report is a sensible one. I am glad that it has been agreed to by the committee. I support Mrs Burke in her remarks and commend the report for adoption by members of the Assembly.

MR BERRY (Ginninderra) (10.50): First of all, I think Mrs Burke is talking about a different report, because Mrs Burke seemed to be suggesting that what she was on about was maintaining the status quo. Of course, that is not what she and Mr Mulcahy have done. What they have set out to do is to remove from the code of conduct for

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