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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 August 2017) . . Page.. 2329 ..


because personal judgement is required; personal judgement must be exercised. Right now the Treasurer is simply outsourcing that personal responsibility that he has under the legislation. There is a shortfall in society’s expectations and the laws as they are written, and the Treasurer has an opportunity to try to right that wrong.

The long-term solution is, of course, to fix the legislation. But we are not going to have retrospective legislation to address the issue for this family, and that is where the government has a specific power—ex gratia payments—to try to partially right the wrong. Even if the Treasurer disagrees with the amount, perhaps he could authorise a lesser amount or go into some form of negotiation. But saying that no amount is applicable and that no amount is warranted says two things: firstly, that there is no gap between society’s expectations and the current law; and, secondly, that there is no in-principle argument that this family is making.

I think the Chief Minister and Treasurer is out of step with community expectations. The fact that this coalition between Labor and the Greens is so tight that the Greens, too, think there is no gap in expectation between the community and the laws shows that they are in lock step with the Labor Party in a very tight coalition. I, too, commend Mr Doszpot for his motion today, and I think it is very disappointing that it looks like it is going to go down.

MR DOSZPOT (Kurrajong) (10.59): I was elected to the Assembly nine years ago and I have to say that it has been a very proud part of my life to date to be able to serve the community through what we do here in the Assembly. I also have to say that today I feel a deep shame on behalf of all us, which affects all of us, shame for the way that the obstinacy of having made a decision is being followed. I cannot comprehend and I cannot understand why Mr Barr—through you, Madam Assistant Speaker—who, even now has got his back turned to the family, does not turn and at least acknowledge the family and perhaps meet with them to understand. The opportunity is here for him. We are not talking just about statistics, just about legal requirements. For the life of me I cannot understand how the obfuscation, prevarication, I referred to is still being continued by this Chief Minister here this morning.

The amendment that we are being asked to look at is shameful. We very carefully made sure the motion that I brought before this Assembly was not a political motion. Yet Mr Barr has seen fit to amend the life out of the motion. The motion was calling on compassion for the Hartigan family, to reconsider the ex gratia or act of grace payment. That has totally disappeared. Mr Barr referred to the family’s request not meeting the ex gratia payment criteria. I find that strange because all the legal suggestions that have been made to me are that an ex gratia payment is not bound by any legal considerations; an ex gratia payment, an act of grace payment, is there to redress an issue that the legal situation, for whatever reason—be that lax legislation or any other issues—does not cover.

I am deeply ashamed of what I heard here this morning, especially from Ms Le Couteur. She and her colleague Mr Rattenbury always talk in very passionate terms about standing up for those who cannot defend themselves. I have yet to hear them stand up and defend someone who cannot defend themselves. Shame on you, the Greens Party, and shame on the government for the way this has been handled.


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