Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999

Other title

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





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 17 February 1999 version for which the Country Liberal Party paid, according to the former Chief Minister, some $3500. Mind you, whilst that bears out what Andrew Coward said about being tapped on the shoulder by the former Chief Minister, which he vehemently denied, he vehemently denied back there in November/December, it does bear out that what Andrew Coward was saying about government paying for 90% of the research and the Country Liberal Party paying for just 10%. We never saw any documentation from the former Chief Minister to suggest that the CLP ever paid anything at all. The fact that weve talked about this amount of $35 000 on the one hand and $3500 for a much thicker volume than the government paid $35 000 for - we never saw it, but we are prepared to accept that Coward was right, that he was tapped on the shoulder by the member for Port Darwin to say that have you spoken to your boss about that the governments picking up 90%. The Deputy Chief Minister within that 4 minutes of that response suggested that I believed the former Chief Minister should carry receipts around in his pocket for 8 years in case he ever gets asked a question. Its utter nonsense and the Deputy Chief Minister knows it. The fact is not only did he not have any defence at all to offer in favour of the former Chief Minister he was in fact even at that time trying to distance himself desperately from his boss because, at that stage, I think he knew the Chief Minister was in a fair bit of bother and he wasnt going to be going down with him if he could help it. The former Chief Minister of course by that stage had probably 5 or 6 days notice by the 26 November that these questions and allegations would be raised. If he really had evidence of the Country Liberal Party paying this measly $3500 worth of polling for which they got $35 000 worth he would have produced it, he would have had the receipt on the floor of this House. The fact is he could not produce any evidence because none existed. The inquiry called for, is also asked to examine allegations by the former Chief Minister that Labor has tendered forged documentation. This was always an obvious claim to produce in order to muddy the waters and try to take some of the heat off. He did not make this claim on any of the days that we were producing the substantial evidence, and he did not make the claim until very late in the debate, because he knew in the first place that what we were producing and what he was picking up across the floor of the Chamber each day was indeed genuine. What he did not know was what else we might have. He could not take the risk early in the debate of claiming fraudulent documents because he could not be sure that we would not produce evidence, further evidence the very next day, that would immediately disprove his claim. By the last day of sittings, of course, the heat was off in the sense that there could be no further parliamentary disclosures at least, so he grabs the easy defence line there and then, to claim: The documents are fraudulent, they are all forged. The real fraud in this whole exercise is the former Chief Minister. He knows it, the Deputy Chief Minister knows it, the Leader of Government Business knows it, and so does the new Chief Minister. Mr Stone inteijecting. Mr SPEAKER: Order! Mr STIRLING: Why else, out of all the government members, was it the member for Brennan who rang Mr Coward to discuss these allegations? It is most likely, I think, that the member for Brennan was showing some real political savvy, perhaps for the first time in his political career, by sensing that here was a story, if it had enough bones to it and evidence could be put forward, it could be very, very damaging to the then Chief Minister. Nothing wrong with that - political ambition-a healthy thing, a part of political life. Nothing wrong at all in ringing Andrew Coward, nothing wrong at all in covering the bases just in case there is a chance the boss might go under, as he clearly did. Political assassinations are never a pleasant matter. On 26 November, I said in the censure motion in this Assembly that if government members wanted to retain any credibility they would join with the opposition to censure die Chief Minister, and that their failure to do so would equally condemn them as approving of corruption and that Territorians would finally know what had long been suspected - that the Country Liberal Party is indeed corrupt. Whilst government members did indeed vote with the Chief Minister to defeat the censure, it was not all that far away when the time would come to sit down and sign Peter Adamsons letter. In fact I think that day loomed much closer when the former Chief Minister went close to assassinating the former Speaker with his Motion of Dissent in here because the body language between government members coming in for that division motion and standing stiffly against the back wall, heads bowed with the former Chief Minister sitting all on his own at his desk at the front was unmistakable. I dont pay credit to government members for rolling their leader. They simply had no choice. But their actions in doing so did not deflect the opposition at all from pursuing these allegations and 2792