Page 1668 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 April 2009
contract, particularly in relation to item 2.6, were discussed in detail, in camera, before the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety. It must be terrible to be sitting next to the chair of that committee, who has the answers, yet Mr Hanson cannot get them.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra): I seek leave to make a personal explanation under standing order 46.
MR SPEAKER: Leave is granted, Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In answer to questions today, Mr Barr imputed that I in some way was a racist because I was asking questions about UK-trained people who had come to work in the ACT. He also made an imputation that in some way, because members of the opposition have southern European names, we should be above—or something; I am not quite sure. But there were certainly imputations about race.
First of all, in addition to that, I would like to draw the minister’s attention to the fact that I also was born with a southern European name. I do not engage in racism; I ask questions about matters of public policy. I want to put on the record that the ACT Liberal Party has supported the overseas recruitment of suitably qualified people, but not at the expense of Australians who hold similar qualifications. The questions were about whether or not the government had over-recruited. It is not a matter of race, and it is not a matter of anyone having a particular prejudice against anyone—except people in the ACT who are at risk of losing their jobs.
Mr Speaker, I seek your ruling under standing order 55 in relation to the imputations made by Mr Barr that I was a racist and that members of the Liberal opposition were racist. And if you think that he has made inappropriate comments, I would ask him to withdraw them.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Planning and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation): Mr Speaker, if it would assist you, I will withdraw any imputation that Mrs Dunne has a sense that I have suggested that she personally is racist. I will withdraw any imputation that that is the case. And, if other members of the Liberal Party similarly feel that that was implied in my answer, I apologise to them.
Mrs Dunne: It was not implied; it was said.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Let us hear Mr Barr.
MR BARR: However, I do not resile from the comments I made in question time in relation to my personal feelings about the nature of this debate in the public sphere—not necessarily as raised by Mrs Dunne in her question, but the public debate as portrayed in the media has tinges of racism.