Page 3720 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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The opportunity was there today for the Chief Minister to come and explain and have a reasonable debate in this place. Instead, we had from the leader of government business another on-the-spot ruling that only committee members normally speak to a report and then we adjourn it, which of course is patently false. It is made false and the lie is put to it by the fact that this morning we had a debate on the closure of the Wanniassa Medical Centre and everyone was free to speak to it. Indeed, nine or 10 members spoke to it.

The government squibbed it. The evasiveness and the number of rabbit burrows they ran down during the day were just extraordinary. There it was: we had finished the education debate and we should have gone to the debate on ACT fire and emergency services. But no, we jumped to the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill. Why? Because we are afraid of the scrutiny. Why? Because we know that the Chief Minister cannot answer the questions. Why did we do it? Because we did not want to be held accountable and because we have simply got the numbers. Then, instead of going to orders of the day Nos 2, 3 and 4, we jumped to No 5. When we tried to bring it back on, we were stifled by the numbers.

MR SPEAKER: Order! You should not reflect on a vote of the Assembly.

MR SMYTH: I take back whatever it is that you wish me to take back, Mr Speaker. It is interesting that all of the other players have gone, players that Mr Stanhope as Chief Minister said he would stand by. When the reshuffle came and when the move came to the authority, they did not get the jobs because he did not want them around. It is interesting the former head of the Chief Minister’s Department, the head of the Chief Minister’s Department on the day, has gone. The head of the justice and community safety department on the day is no longer with us. The head of the Department of Urban Services at the time has gone. The head of the then Emergency Services Bureau has gone. The head of the ACT Fire Service at the time has gone. The head of ACT emergency services at the time has gone. The head of the Rural Fire Service at the time has gone. They are all gone. The only one left to defend them and speak for their actions and to defend the government who was in a position of authority and a part of it on the day is of course the Chief Minister.

Who is left to answer? Who has all the knowledge? Who is the only one that can correct the record? That is the Chief Minister. And what did he do? He squibbed it. In a display of gutlessness, unseen in parliament, particularly in this parliament, he has left his chair empty all day because he did not want to answer. He has turned up. Fantastic! He said the coroner had overstepped the line. Who is he to judge what the coroner does? He funded the appeals against the coroner to stop the coroner getting to the truth.

We had Mr Corbell, as reported in the Age, say, “The coroner made it political. What will we do? We will answer in the political realm.” When the opportunity came to have his say, to correct the record in what they have deemed the political realm, the committee of the Assembly, he squibbed it. And when the opportunity came today to have the debate, to defend his record, he squibbed it. He has squibbed it all day long.

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