Page 4639 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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went up to federal parliament as Leader of the Opposition, as a member of the ACT’s elected parliament, and argued against this bill—something that I still cannot believe he got away with without the criticism he deserved. He sat there, all dressed up, all scrubbed up, ready to give evidence to argue against this bill, which simply removes the executive veto over laws passed by this place. It was unbelievable. You could not imagine it was happening—but it was and it was televised.

The issue here reminds us that we have the most conservative Liberal leader of any Liberal Party in the country, leading the most conservative Liberal Party in any parliament. Unless they feared other conspiracy theories associated with this bill, unless that was an anathema to them, you could not imagine any other reason why any person reading the legislation that Senator Brown has put forward would oppose the bill. It simply removes the executive veto.

But we know what the opposition are all about. We know what they stand for and what they fear. What anyone who witnessed it saw that day was the Leader of the Opposition of this parliament going to the federal parliament and arguing against any increase in the territory’s right to govern for itself. It was simply unbelievable. And the shameful speech that he has given in here this morning, which did not concentrate on any of that—did not concentrate on his submission or his appearance or the evidence he gave or his own views on this legislation—was simply to point the finger at the Labor Party. How tired and old is that?

This is not about the Labor Party. Yes, I wish it had been my colleagues that brought this bill forward in federal parliament. Indeed it is something that I had hoped for. But they did not; Senator Brown did. So does that mean that we should all go, “Senator Brown has done it; therefore we cannot and do not support that”—similar to the philosophy taken by the Liberal Party that if Andrew Barr supports it they cannot? That is not the response of mature leaders in a mature parliament who look at issues as they come before them, which is what this government has done. I have met with Senator Brown about his bill. I have written to all senators and members of the House of Reps urging them to support this bill and providing them with reasons why I think they should. That followed on from the previous Chief Minister having done that, and I have had a number of responses, some positive, some negative.

This is all about leadership. It is not just the Chief Minister who is the leader; every single member in this place is a leader for the people of the ACT. One thing I will agree with, Mr Seselja, is that this is not day-to-day bread and butter stuff; it is not the stuff that concerns Canberrans the most and governments should concentrate on all of those issues. But that does not mean you cannot do both. It does not mean that you cannot chew gum and walk at the same time; that you can look after the bread and butter issues that concern all Canberrans but you dare not have a view about a matter as significant as the democratic processes that govern the territory. You have to have both if you are going to be an effective leader.

Mr Seselja had a massive fail this morning in that regard and a massive fail when he went up to federal parliament and argued against any increase in rights for this Assembly to govern for itself without the fear of executive veto. We see the failure of leadership right across the opposition. But it does not mean that leaders cannot have

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