Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 June 2009) . . Page.. 2297 ..
It is interesting, because in the third paragraph the Chief Minister then asserts that the defamation has occurred. So we have got this internal inconsistency. He wants the committee to find out what he has already decided—that a defamation has occurred. I suspect that the amendment may well be out of order.
The question is: what is privilege about? Again, those opposite show their ignorance of (1) the process today and (2) what it is that this committee is going to inquire into. The minister is responsible for the overall good management of the department. We know that ministers do not make these decisions. Minister Barr, who has been conspicuous by his absence throughout this debate—he is not down here supporting the Deputy Chief Minister and his colleague—does not make DAs. He does not approve DAs—unless he calls them in, of course—but he is responsible for ensuring that his department provides good decision-making processes, and that is what this is about.
There are three paragraphs here that should not be supported. The first one seeks to turn a privileges committee into a court; the second one then prejudices that process by saying that the committee should decide what the Chief Minister has already decided—and this is typical of the Chief Minister; this is the way he operates. This is the man who believes in civil liberties but then makes decisions because he knows better than everybody else. The argument seems to be that, if you call a public servant to account, the whole system will fall apart and public servants will start lying to committees into the future. But we called public servants to account in 2003. We insisted upon better processes, we insisted upon training, and the system did not fall over. The arguments of the government are flawed. The amendment should not be supported.
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (11.49): The Greens will not be supporting Mr Stanhope’s amendment. Clearly—and the reason I moved my amendment—by including both Mr Cormack’s letter and Mr Hanson’s press release, we will draw out the issues of whether the actions of both parties have breached privilege or not. That is why I included both of those documents in my amendment. As I also noted in the estimates committee, I believe that both parties are at fault here in this instance. In relation to that, I do believe we have crossed a line somewhat when a department official does suggest a course of action to a member. But I also stated that I believed there were inappropriate statements in Mr Hanson’s press release. Therefore, that is why I believe we should be examining both of these matters as a privilege matter and looking at both of these documents, because they have led to where we are now.
In relation to why I spoke briefly, which does seem to be something which is not accepted in this place—you have to talk over and over about something—speaking briefly is an appropriate course of action to take.
Mr Corbell: More than 10 seconds would be a good contribution.
MS BRESNAN: Well, we could probably argue as to whether any of what has been said today has been appropriate. The fact of the matter is that the substance of this issue has been discussed at length during estimates. Also, the simple fact of the matter