Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3852 ..
Most of it I probably am comfortable with, but, frankly, as a matter of principle I will oppose both the motion and the amendment.
MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Housing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (9.50): It is six years and six days since that vote was taken when Mr Wood and I voted differently from our colleagues. I would like to let people like Mr Mulcahy know, because he was not here at the time, that that was not the first time that I had done it; it was in fact the second. I rise in a debate that I really would prefer not to take part in, but it would be hypocritical of me to solicit the views of the Leader of the Opposition without having the courage to stand up and give mine first.
One of the issues that we have as members in this place, whether the issue is one of conscience or whether it is something which is more mechanical than that, is that we have an obligation to our constituents and to the people of the ACT to make it clear where we do stand on issues, whether or not we are people of conviction or courage or whether or not we are cowards and will use all of the wordsmith expertise that we have about our persons to duck and weave away from that.
I think I have grown during my tenure in this place. When I first came in here, as we all did, at one point we were raw politicians; we really did not have a clue about where we were going in the first couple of sitting periods. Then, the longer we served here, the more we were aware of our responsibilities and where we have to go. As I went from a backbencher to the whip’s position and to the ministry I became more acutely aware of the extent to which the community looked to me and my colleagues for guidance.
On this particular issue—I know that Bill Wood shares this view—we have an incredible amount of discomfort. As men, we do not want to face up to this particular issue if we can get away with it; we do not want to do it; we want to have somebody else take these decisions. But we cannot.
I wanted to reiterate something I said the last two times, and that is to pay a tribute to my colleagues for not only allowing me the opportunity to have a conscience vote and to express it in contradiction to the general thrust of what my colleagues were saying but also for giving me support in the caucus room and in the corridors for what was a very difficult position. And those people that have had difficulties in party rooms of late would know how difficult these particular issues of conflict can be.
I have to say that I am particularly privileged to sit amongst colleagues who allow me the freedom to express how I feel about these issues. In that sense, I am reminded of what Machiavelli said. It goes along the lines, not exactly, that a prince is judged by the stature of the nobles he gathers around him. I have never met a Moonie in my life.
This motion does not encourage trivialisation of the issue. This motion does not encourage the application of the procedure of termination. It is a particularly serious motion and it is something that people discuss around the dinner table from time to time in the society that has grown. I have come to know, in the years that I have been in this place and listening to this debate the two times that I have listened to it, that in a sense society has moved. Our society has moved. Some in this place would say it