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 the need for an inquiry. If it was indeed all the former Chief Ministers fault why not have the inquiry and clear the air. Without it, the stench of wrong-doing of the Country Liberal Party with its snout in the public coffers will remain. Getting rid of one of the most central perpetrators does not and will not make it go away. Only an inquiry can clear the Country Liberal Party of impropriety or otherwise. The government has an opportunity to put this matter behind it by having it looked into or it can continue in its old ways of sweeping controversy under the carpet of being secretive and of encouraging innuendo and rumour that all is not right within the corridors of power in the Northern Territory. We have a Chief Minister first time as Chief Minister in the House yesterday saying open, honest and accountable government, here is an opportunity for him to prove it. Call on the inquiry, clear the books, you can distance yourself and your administration from the corrupt and dirty practices of the past or you can try and sweep it under the carpet and the stench will be hanging around you between now and the next election. Mr BURKE (Chief Minister): Mr Speaker, I am a bit breathless after that. I am absolutely breathless because Ive been spending some time looking at the documents that were tabled this morning which logically one would have thought led to the case that the opposition were building, and logically contained additional information because the information that had been laid on the Table previously had been fully debated. So therefore, I was looking forward to a speech from the honourable member for Nhulunbuy that contained new information that could somehow bring this matter to some more life, and therefore gain the governments interest. But I can only say it certainly hasnt done that. What weve seen is an attack on Mark Textor, which occupied some minutes and if the Chief Minister of the day spent 14 minutes dealing with this issue and he has been in parliament 8 years, most of which were after these events, Ive been in parliament about 4 years and it probably deserves about 5 minutes of my time. But Ill try to be a little more gracious. Firstly, the bulk of the attack came on Mark Textor, and I dealt with that this morning. I outlined the questions that Senator Ray asked in the Senate 2 days ago and, in fact, the member for Nhulunbuy quoted extensively from the comments of Senator Faulkner which again maybe reinforces my point that the real object of this exercise has been and will continue to be an attack on the reputation of Mark Textor. I might add whilst Im at it, that I think a pollster is entitled to determine the attitudes of people on subjects which you or I may not agree, if thats the real attitude of people at the time. You made the point about attitudes to Aboriginal people. Some of those attitudes which exist in society are attitudes that we dont agree with or subscribe to but that doesnt prevent a pollster determining for people what their real attitudes are. It is a persons right to hold those attitudes and to express them freely in a democratic society and if a pollster is searching for what are the real factors that form a persons opinion on issues. I think that is a legitimate right of a pollster to go about that way. The other thing that I think is quite disappointing is that they say that there is no honour in politics. I remember Disraeli said that once and I think that it is particularly dishonourable to continue a sustained attack on Mark Textor and his reputation, to make allegations in this House which havent been substantiated. I dont know what the terms of settlement of the ACT court case were. I understand those terms of settlement were confidential to both parties involved and I certainly havent seen or read of an admission from Mark Textor that he was found guilty or whatever of the allegations that were made. Yet the member for Nhulunbuy is quite happy to say on the public record, the permanent public record, that he admitted in court the allegations and therefore the extension ... Members inteijecting. M r SPEAKER: Order! Mr BURKE: ... of that is that the allegations of that were proven. At the very least I would have thought that in a free and democratic society a man should be given a chance to defend his honour and that certainly hasnt been given to him by the member for Nhulunbuy. Then we moved on to an interesting story about the reason for the removal of our previous Chief Minister. It was an interesting story, none of it true I might add, and in any case that is something that will remain an issue for the parliamentary wing. There have been some statements made in newspapers etc, as to what did occur, or did not occur. But I can assure you that the previous Chief Ministers handling of the issue of the Coward allegations was something that, from this side of the House, we thought - and still do - was a superb piece of debate in this Chamber, it was almost unmatched. I sat next to him. If I was the Leader of the Opposition at the time, I would have been disappointed because most of Question Time - in fact, all of Question Time - on a number of days where these allegations were being hurled at the Chief Minister to wound his integrity and character at the time, I can tell you sitting on his 2793