Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 3 August 2017) . . Page.. 2443 ..
would have been much more positive in terms of positive actions for Bimberi to have the opposition’s list of suggestions debated. “Is this a good idea? Would it make a difference? Is it being implemented? How would it be implemented?”, rather than saying the minister has done the wrong thing. Clearly a censure motion is not the best way to change the practices at Bimberi.
The Greens are not going to be supporting this motion. It does not seem to me that it is likely to achieve anything positive for Bimberi and I and the Greens are certainly convinced that the minister is concerned about this issue and is doing what she feels she can do to make things better.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (10.47): The government will not be supporting the opposition leader’s motion this morning. I note the comments from Ms Le Couteur about the approach to this issue from those opposite. The simple answer to her question as to why it is being done this way is one word: politics. We can never escape it in this place, and what we have seen this morning is bringing one of the most significant motions that can be brought before this chamber—censure of a minister, second only to a no-confidence motion in its seriousness—and yet what we have heard this morning in no way justifies this place supporting a motion of censure of Minister Stephen-Smith.
I want to take this opportunity this morning to commend the minister for her active engagement to establish frameworks to ensure as much as possible that Bimberi is safe for staff and for young people. Minister Stephen-Smith has been open and transparent about the issues facing this facility and what she and the government are doing to address them. The minister puts the welfare of the young people at Bimberi and the safety and support of staff working there as her absolute priorities. The minister and the government reject any imputation in the motion from the Leader of the Opposition and the commentary from the Liberal Party about being resigned to violence in the facility.
The minister has made a number of things very clear both in this place and in the media; and it was instructive to hear how full quotes are not published in what passes for this city’s newspaper. My only advice to Minister Stephen-Smith in that regard is that, yes, live radio provides the opportunity for you to be unfiltered in your response to issues that are raised. All members will experience in our time in this Assembly being misquoted or selectively quoted by the Canberra Times. All of us will experience that, I am sorry to say, but there is no point dwelling on that at this point in time.
As Minister Stephen-Smith has made clear, when allegations of inappropriate staff behaviour are received they are taken seriously and fully investigated. The minister has also repeatedly urged anyone with concerns about Bimberi to provide details to the Community Services Directorate, the Human Rights Commission or other channels so that these matters can be fully investigated.