When I was a minister in the ACT Legislative Assembly, the Opposition would move a no confidence motion in one of the ministers on the first sitting day of each parliamentary session. The Government had a majority in its own right and so these motions were nothing more than opportunistic stunts addressing the growing relevance deprivation of those in the cheap seats.
In the next Assembly, that of the 2012-2016 period, there weren’t quite as many but still there were some. They were used to try to intimidate a minister or to show that the Opposition was actually paying attention to the Canberra Times because that’s where they got their evidence from to support the motions.
We’ve seen a couple in this Assembly but this current one of no confidence in the Chief Minister is actually a serious issue.
Firstly, if a no confidence motion in the Chief Minister is passed, the government falls. The Assembly then elects a new Chief Minister and off we go again. Trevor Kaine did it to Rosemary Follett in the kindergarten days of the Assembly. Jon Stanhope had to endure a couple of wet lettuce motions when we had a majority and again when there was the ALP/Greens alliance.
In the alliance, and in the current one, the Greens agree to support the Chief Minister in no confidence motions in most cases, but not if there is illegal or corrupt behaviour. Here is the reason that the Leader of the Opposition has been using the word corrupt in the motion and in the Assembly ad nauseum.
Corruption is a very serious accusation. It not only needs substantial evidence based on fact, but it needs to be prosecuted by the police. It is illegal activity. The Opposition is accusing the Government of engaging in criminal activity.
So where is the proof? We don’t have to wait too long but there is a process to be gone through.
When a motion of no confidence in the Chief Minister is moved, the Assembly stops working and does no legislative work for seven days. Those sitting days are not brought on later, they just don’t happen. They are wasted.
It’s interesting that the Opposition is prosecuting its case, without using the word corruption, through the media. Trial by Media is always fraught. Have you stopped beating your dog?
The Opposition is citing planning issues, exemption from taxation issues, favouritism, cronyism with the union movement and who knows whatever else.
This is mud-slinging in the hope that some mud will stick. Remember the mud slung at Ms Fitzharris over her husband’s connection with the Manuka Oval proposal? Remember the mud slung over the MOU with the unions? Remember the mud slung over the so-called dependence on poker machine revenue? But hey, accusations of corruption are another level.
The Greens have already signalled that they are not going to support the motion and so it is merely an opportunity for mudslinging under the cowardly guise of parliamentary privilege.
Also, do you reckon that Shane Rattenbury would vote himself out of a job? Yeah right!
So what will happen this week is a circus. It is shouting and gnashing of teeth, explosive unsubstantiated accusations of dirty deals, cronyism and the end of the world as we know it.
The vote will be lost, and after lunch the licking of wounds; they will all come together in the Chamber and start work again. But the bitterness remains.
An accusation of corruption is a personal attack on Andrew Barr. The Opposition is good at personal attack. They frequently abused parliamentary process in my time and afterwards in unnecessary savagery more akin to bullying than in forensic questioning. Their constant attacks on Joy Burch, intended to wear her down and bring about her downfall were ugly to watch.
But you watch. I predict that none of the “evidence” they produce will be anything other than that which the Canberra Times has put in their stories. The case the Opposition will mount is merely a chronicle of stories connected by gossamer.
Jeremy Hanson tried it on me and got exposed for downright laziness and a drive to sound important. They say if you don’t have a case at least you can have volume. And this the Opposition has in spades. I thought that with some new blood that the calibre of debate might rise, that the integrity of the Opposition might improve but no. They say the fish rots from the head. Well, the Opposition is lazy and irrelevant. Jeremy Hanson had fire in his belly and his tongue when the leader of the Opposition; Alistair Coe is a shadow of Jeremy, Zed, Brendan and Gary. But his need to attack the individual is greater than all of those other leaders.
This no confidence motion is a stunt, following a stack of previously unsuccessful motions. And the Opposition knows it can’t win but persists in wasting everyone’s time. The only difference this time is the accusation of corruption. Corruption is the misuse of influence for personal gain.
This Assembly has been free of corruption and accusations of such since its inception, unlike the other states on the Eastern sea board. The introduction of this notion is abhorrent. I am not surprised but am disappointed.
If the Opposition members all had the integrity of Steve Doszpot, the word would not be part of the lexicon. Try to mount a case for incompetence if you like, Mr Coe and good luck with that; but you had better have the goods on the corruption or you will look really stupid and as irrelevant as a carp thrashing on the shore.
Respond to Alex White’s challenge. Repeat the accusations in public and take out a loan to fight the defamation case.