Page 2390 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 16 June 2009

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Privileges—Select Committee

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (6.11): I am not grateful at all for Mrs Dunne’s gratuitous advice on how members of the government should conduct themselves. That is a matter for us and ultimately for the electors to determine. But I think it is appropriate to reflect on the discussion this morning that led to the establishment of a select committee on privileges. I am not going to endeavour to reflect on that decision but I am going to reflect on the important position of principle that the Labor government sought to take on this matter.

We feel, and remain of the very strong view, that the approach adopted by the Liberal Party and supported by the Greens in relation to this matter is one that is deeply unprincipled and fundamentally flawed. The position adopted by the two non-government parties in this place today sends the signal that whenever someone critiques a member of the opposition they will face the prospect of a privileges inquiry. It is a move designed to silence any suggestion that they may have got it wrong. It is a move designed to send the very clear message that people who seek to correct the facts will be held publicly to a process of ridicule and inquisition.

It is an unprincipled and unworthy development in this place, and the Labor Party stands by that. To the extent that other members in this place facilitated that debate today it was entirely appropriate that the government make clear that it did not agree, and it dissented from that course of action.

That is what I did as manager of government business. I stand by my comments in relation to that debate and it is an entirely appropriate form of this place that, where a person is aggrieved by the decision of the Speaker and is able to move dissent in relation to that ruling, they can do so and can express their view to the Speaker directly. I always have high regard for the importance of respecting the authority of the Speaker in this place but there is a form of this place for dissenting from the decision of a Speaker, and that is what I did, in accordance with the forms of this place.

My language was language appropriate for a strongly held dissent and it did not in any way suggest anything other than disagreement with the Speaker in relation to that matter. That is appropriate; that is what the standing orders provide for; and it is the way I will continue to conduct myself in relation to matters where I believe the Speaker’s ruling is incorrect, as rare as I hope those moments will be.

Estimates 2009-2010—Select Committee

MR COE (Ginninderra) (6.14): Last week the Chief Minister made some extraordinary claims regarding questions on notice and belittled his local government responsibilities by highlighting questions on notice from the estimates period as a “wild fishing expedition”.

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