Page 2389 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 16 June 2009

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I cannot leave the chamber today without reflecting not so much on the votes of this morning but on the performances of this morning and express my deep concern at the behaviour of the Labor Party in relation to the matter of precedence in this place. Having been a member now for coming up to eight years, I have seen the establishment of quite a number of privileges committees in my time to inquire into matters of privilege. I have been the subject of a privileges inquiry. I have seen staff of the Assembly subject to a privileges inquiry and I have seen members subject to a privileges inquiry. I have previously seen public servants also subjected to a privileges inquiry but I have never experienced what I saw this morning, neither in majority nor in minority government of either stripe.

I knew that we were in for trouble when the Chief Minister stood and asked you, Mr Speaker, to table your advice, which I thought was a bit rich coming from the Chief Minister who will never waive privilege on any matter of legal advice. I thought it was a bit rich of the Chief Minister to require that of you, Mr Speaker. And my general view is that, if I was in the situation that you were in, I would waive my privilege in relation to legal advice when the Chief Minister waives his and tables the Costello report.

But it went from bad to worse. I think the performance of the leader of the house, the manager of government business, was a low point in the Assembly. He wanted to move dissent from what he thought was your ruling when there was no ruling but was not to be able to take advice that he could not do so. There is a form for dealing with this and it is set out in the standing orders. You come to a view that something is entitled to precedence and then the Assembly takes over. Mr Hanson may move a motion. Mr Hanson, as the person bringing forward this matter, may move a motion or he may not; he may have decided that the matter had already been resolved. As it turned out, he did want to, and that is the place where, if he wanted to, the manager of government business could put forward the government’s objections.

But my great concern about this is that the way that this was dealt with this morning in many ways makes it very difficult for those people who have now been appointed to the privileges committee to undertake an inquiry which is not in some way overshadowed by the very bad behaviour of the government here today in prejudging the issues. Of course, matters of privilege are always fraught and people come to them with their own views about it but, having been the subject of a privileges committee inquiry and having seen other people brought before a privileges committee, I have never seen a member behave in a way which so prejudged the outcome.

I think this is an unfortunate turn of events for the Assembly and I think it is appropriate that the minister reflect upon what he said this morning. I think there are many things that he said this morning which were unparliamentary. He called the putative committee a kangaroo court. I wonder how he thinks about that now that he has been appointed to that committee. I think it might be timely for the manager of government business to reflect on the intemperate nature of his language, the intemperate nature of the whole hour and a half of fairly undignified performance this morning from the government. I think they should be getting in a huddle and thinking about how they might do this better in the future.

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