Page 5518 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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One of Ms Gallagher’s first actions as Chief Minister was to take this unprecedented action and act in this highly inappropriate way. And when I was faced with the evidence, Ms Le Couteur’s version and Ms Gallagher’s version, Ms Le Couteur’s is the far more credible.

Why Mr Corbell and Ms Bresnan chose to believe Ms Gallagher over Ms Le Couteur is a question for them. They have not adequately explained it. They have not adequately addressed it in the report itself. But they will now have to answer as to why they do not believe Ms Le Couteur’s evidence is believable. They have not addressed the point. And if you accept that Ms Le Couteur’s evidence is believable, as I do, you have to find that it was highly inappropriate, that it was clearly designed to place pressure on Ms Le Couteur as chair and, in turn, on that committee.

What other conclusion could any reasonable person draw out of statements like that, in a meeting such as that? It follows on from the process which the committee agrees was at the very least unhelpful and which no-one has been able to defend. So you had a poor process. You can debate the words but no-one debated it in the committee and said that it was a good process. No-one claimed it was a good process.

You had a far less than adequate process—in my opinion a very poor process—designed to place maximum pressure on the committee. Then you had a highly inappropriate meeting between Ms Gallagher and Ms Le Couteur where Ms Gallagher sought to lay down the law. She went in there with the force of her office, the force of the alliance between the Labor Party and the Greens, and said: “Look, get on with it. Here is our nominee. It’s going to happen. Let’s just get it done.”

That is not how these things operate. That is not appropriate. That is a contempt of the process and of the committee, and that is why I have found that Ms Gallagher indeed was in contempt in the way she handled it. She has handled this completely inappropriately. She has failed a test of judgement and a test of character on this question. She could have gone through the proper process and we would not be here.

But I do, unlike other members of the committee, believe Ms Le Couteur. I do, unlike other members of the committee, take account of and accept the version of events that has been put to us by a majority of the PAC committee where they felt they were interfered with. For those reasons I have found that Ms Gallagher committed a contempt.

The Labor Party and the Greens members will have to explain why they have chosen to disregard Ms Le Couteur’s evidence, to not believe what she has said, and therefore to protect Ms Gallagher from what clearly was an incorrect and contemptuous process.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.34): This has been a detailed and very considered inquiry by the Select Committee on Privileges where we have received very detailed and very clearly set out written submissions from all of the parties involved in this matter.

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