Page 835 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 16 March 2010

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behaviour of a minister who has just said that he now aspires to be as good a minister as Peter Garrett. Well, Peter Garrett just got sacked by his boss. He is demoted; he is the minister for environment with no portfolio responsibilities. He is an empty shell of a minister, as is this minister in this place.

Madam Deputy Speaker, the persistent and wilful misleading of this place continues this morning in this debate, where the minister gets up and tries to take any document that has been tabled and says, “Well, it’s not really a document.” In a dreadful affront to the ACT public service, he describes these emails and the documents between them as “chatter”. What is “chatter”? Is it sort of idle chatter? “It’s just chatter between public servants. They’re not documents. They don’t count.”

He is dismissive. It is misleading. It is wilful, and it is persistent, because what is in this idle chatter that the minister talks about? Well, let me see. One of the comments from the ACT Planning and Land Authority’s construction services director—not a junior officer, the director—Craig Simmons, was that he was concerned about the risk as early as May last year and he wrote:


meaning the federal government—

have no answer for what happens when due to a poorly undertaken installation a house fire starts and there is significant loss of property or worse.

That, according to the minister, is idle chatter. Another federal warning: one of the department staff, ACTPLA officer Vanessa Morris, told colleagues on 27 November:

As the gate shuts, somewhere far in the distance a horse bolts onwards.

Now he thinks that is idle chatter. So the persistence and the wilfulness of this minister continues, as it has done for years. There are some new members in the Assembly and, let us remember, the minister has got form on this. In fact, on 24 June 2004, the Assembly passed the following censure motion of the minister:

That the Assembly expresses a lack of confidence in the Minister for Health and Planning—

at that time, Mr Corbell—

for persistently and wilfully misleading the Assembly on a number of issues.

The Assembly censured Mr Corbell on 23 September 2003 for his refusal to negotiate. On 18 November 2003, the Assembly had grave concerns about the minister’s conduct. This is a minister who does it, and does it continuously, and this is the third-party insurance that will allow him to continue to do what he does. That is the shame of the day. The case is quite clear simply on the minister’s own words on the day. Now, on the radio, in this place, in interviews, he has tried to explain it away as context. “It wasn’t the question I was asked. What I said was the truth.” Mr Corbell says:

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