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




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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 Now the new Chief Minister, this tough on crime, the one where if you steal a loaf of bread, or maybe a bit of petrol for petrol sniffing you put them in jail, what do you give someone who takes $35 000 of taxpayers money? Oh, if it happened more than 2 weeks ago, we forget about it. It is an interesting sort of double standard. At what point does the statute of limitations come in for political crime or crime that might have occurred that you have some knowledge of. My understanding with mandatory sentencing is if you do it once it is not forgotten for ever. If you commit the same sort of crime again then the next level comes into force, at least 90 days. If you do it a third time, even if it is years later you go to jail for a year. I would have thought - in fact we have documented multiple occurrences of CLP theft of taxpayers money. Why is it that this Chief Minister is happy to put people in jail for property theft as long as they are not his mates? Do we have a slight double standard here? If you are working for the government when you steal taxpayers money is it different to someone who might steal a can of beer out of a pub? Whats the difference? Mr HATTON: A point of order, Mr Speaker! Two points. Firstly, this is not a substantive motion in terms of a censure motion or otherwise, and the statements by the member for Wanguri of theft, and stealing and robbing the taxpayers I believe is going way beyond the powers of reasonable parliamentary debate Secondly, the members opposite are talking as if there is a presumption that something has been proven and quite clearly nothing has been proven. It is merely allegations from the Labor party. I am getting sick and tired of these presumptions of truth in what they are saying. Mr STIRLING: A point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer you to the terms of the motion itself where it talks about the development and implementation of corrupt operations - corrupt operations. Taxpayers defrauded by tens of thousands of dollars. Call it fraud, call it theft, sounds all the same to me. Public servants being deceived by preconceived fraudulent paper trails. It is all there Mr Speaker - it is quite in order. Mr HATTON: In response to the comments by the member for Nhulunbuy, the fact that theyve made these allegations in a motion doesnt make them true. It is still not a substantive motion. This is only a motion concerning a commission of inquiry. Mr SPEAKER: I am not inclined to agree that the motion isnt substantive. It is. It is not a motion of censure. I made the point before to the opposition that in fact they shouldnt at this stage get personal. It is not a censure motion providing it was broad. The motion itself is fairly broad. Providing they maintain that broadness in stating their case, I believe there is no point of order. But I would ask members to refrain from implying wrong doing of any individual member. Mr BAILEY: I am happy to do that, Mr Speaker. The point I was trying to make is not that the current Chief Minister has done anything materially wrong in relation to the motion that is before us. What I am trying to point out to members opposite is what appears to be a double standard by wanting very strict judicial impositions on people who break the law through their mandatory sentencing regime, but on the other hand when we provide significant documentation about improper, and we believe, illegal activity, the Chief Minister doesnt seem to think that it is important enough to inquire into. He says its an expensive process. Well, locking someone up for 12 months is an expensive process. When we introduced mandatory sentencing we didnt say necessarily that it would save us any money. But they said that there was some sort of moral high ground - doing what the people want. Well, the people want things like freedom of information. Possibly, if we had freedom of information, we could find out a little bit more about some of these very suspect practices. It did not seem to worry the government to, at almost the drop of a hat when the opposition end up with a leaked document, send the police to try to find out who leaked that document to the opposition. Now, on the basis of maybe a public service guideline... A member: What document? A member: What are you talking about? Mr BAILEY: Well, there was the one that was left in the pub. There were other ones in relation to the Alice Springs jail where comments were made, and where police interviewed the then Leader of the Opposition about where information had come from. The government is quite happy to spend taxpayers money. Let us just go one step further - the former member for Leanyer. The government was quite happy to spend tens of thousands of taxpayers money to attack, financially and economically, a member of the opposition. So the government does not see... Mr Stone: Well, why did he settle the case and acknowledge liability? Mr BAILEY: Because, as you would know as a QC, just even defending yourself is a very, very 2797