Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 February 2015) . . Page.. 449 ..
I proudly stand by my colleague Minister Burch today. I note the comments of my colleague Minister Rattenbury, but I do not agree with him. As he knows, he does not agree with us on some things. We have common aims and we work together. But in the Labor Party we stick by each other. We stick by each other because we know who our colleagues are and we know that when they say they did not do something, they did not do it. So I proudly stand by my colleague today, as I know all of my colleagues do.
This motion has no substance. It has no evidence to substantiate the claims. As the Chief Minister has said, it is simply a base political tactic. And it is clearly one that does not even have the support of all the members over on that side of the chamber.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.08), in reply: I thank members for their contributions. I do not deny that this is a difficult issue that we are dealing with today—without question, it is—but I do not resile from it. We have an important duty in this parliament to make sure that all of us are behaving with the utmost probative, ethical conduct and integrity. That, undoubtedly, has been called into question. There are, without any question, some significant issues that have been brought before the public, not least relating to a breach of the law but also with regard to the minister’s conduct in this place.
The fact of the matter is that this issue has been aired in public over a reasonably protracted period. The Labor Party’s response, the minister’s response and the Chief Minister’s response were to do everything to shut the issue down. Rather than, as would be expected as a member of this place and as a minister, making a clear statement to explain actions, to adhere to the code of conduct, we have seen, in essence, every attempt to intimidate the media, to intimidate the opposition and to shut this matter down. Indeed, Mr Barr and Ms Burch have been refusing to discuss the matter. Mr Barr said last week that the matter was closed, that there was going to be no more discussion about this matter. He attacked the quite reasonable questions that were being asked in the media as media hysteria.
Mr Rattenbury, in his comments, has gone to this point and acknowledged it. I thank him for that explanation because he has made it clear—I paraphrase him—that it is regrettable it has taken so long to get to this point. He has made the point that the community have a right to an explanation. The community have a right to an explanation. Rather, we saw from the members of the government dismissal and attacks on the media for asking what were, in my view, quite legitimate questions that needed to be answered and, I believe, paraphrasing Mr Rattenbury, reasonable questions that needed to be answered. As Mr Rattenbury said, he simply does not understand the Labor Party sometimes.
It is quite evident that we now have more information about what has occurred. There is no question that we now have some more information about what has occurred. But let us also be very clear: we would have known nothing if the Labor Party and the minister had not been dragged kicking and screaming to this place because of my call, the opposition’s call, for an inquiry. The statement that we have seen from the minister, the response that we have now seen, has only come as a result of the opposition’s call for an inquiry. The instinct and the actions of Mr Barr and Ms Burch were to deny, to attack the media and to attack the opposition.