Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999

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Parliamentary Record 14


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 February 1999 a statement making it clear that all professional pollsters despised the use of push-polling techniques, the very tactics admitted to by Andrew Robb, Mark Textor and the Liberal Party in the Canberra by-election. If the new Chief Minister seriously wants to distance himself and his administration from the wrongs of the past, he has to get rid of a few mates - Cowdy, Muiphy and OBrien for a start - and he has to give an unequivocal assurance that never again will Textor or any of his companies be given work in the Northern Territory by his government. We know push-polling occurred in 5 or 6 northern suburb electorates just before the 1994 Northern Territory election. Were CLP candidates told what was to occur in the electorate for which they were standing as a candidate and did the individual candidates have to give consent for push-polling to occur in their seat? Certainly the member for Millner, the single biggest, but not the only beneficiary of push-polling in this Assembly, was, to his credit if it is true, alleged to have tried to stop it once he knew it to be occurring after voters had contacted him. Push-polling took place in Wanguri, a seat retained of course by my colleague Mr John Bailey. Push-polling also took place in Brennan, the seat won by the new Chief Minister. Did the Chief Minister know beforehand that push-polling was to take place in his electorate? Was he asked beforehand ... Mr BURKE: Point of order, Mr Speaker! The member opposite is making an allegation that has never been substantiated and that is certainly news to me. I believe he is misleading the House. He is stating that push-polling occurred in the Brennan electorate. I am quite wounded by this and I would ask him to either prove it or withdraw it. M r Bailey: Whats your point of order? What Standing Order? M r BURKE: Its a personal affront to my integrity that I ... Mr Bailey: Rubbish... Mr SPEAKER: There is some question. It really is the sort of thing that one would expect to hear if, in fact, there was a motion of censure against a member, when you start to bring it in so personally. I think while you leave it fairly broad, you can probably get away with it in the context of this debate, but be very wary of comments against any individual member. Mr Bailey: The member for Millner is on the record in denying he knew it was happening in his electorate. M r SPEAKER: Order! Mr STIRLING: Mr Speaker, I am happy to withdraw the allegation in respect of the electorate of Brennan. The very fact that it was Brennan that he objected to, he did not object to Wanguri, he did not object to Millner, and I will take it as read that he accepted that push-polling took place in both of those electorates. Mr Speaker, the opposition outlined in this Assembly how the former Chief Minister and staff conspired to conceal the real nature of some of the polling research undertaken in order to have public servants authorise payment from the public purse. We know from the nature of the polling undertaken that it sought to position government to benefit from race-based campaigning, to divide Territorians for political gain, and I quote: The extent to which the Aboriginal issue is capable ... Mr Mitchell inteijecting. Mr STIRLING: Youre the bloke that did i t ... M r SPEAKER: Order! Mr STIRLING: The extent to which the Aboriginal issue was capable of evoking anger should not be underestimated. If thats not playing the race game, I dont know what is. Aboriginals - embracing their behaviour, welfare benefits, rights of land and so on, are sleeping issues which incite anger in white Territorians. I would hope the new Chief Minister would be distancing himself from the sort of polling that produces those sort of lines that are manipulated by the Country Liberal Party for electoral gain in every election. The opposition outlined the paper trail and the documents in this Assembly on the 26 November last year and again this morning. The Chief Minister on that particular occasion spoke for just 14 minutes, just 14 minutes in his own defence and following my own contribution to the Censure Motion of that day the Deputy Chief Minister mustered up a very brave, a very brave 4 minutes. Four minutes from the Deputy Chief Minister, the man charged with responsibility of defending his leader on the floor of this House. A pathetic response to clearly outlined charges of corrupt behaviour by the former Chief Minister. You will recall how the opposition showed that the taxpayer paid Klein and Associates over $35 000 for polling research and finished up with a cleansed document stripped of its hard party political information. Former Chief Minister Stone, Textor, Coward and the Country Liberal Party received a thicker volume some 16 pages longer than this sanitised 2791