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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)


Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 27 February 1985 who was present gave his hearsay statements as I am assured by Jim Moore that many of the quotes were used selectively and out of context to authenticate a point of view of the opposition. Neither of us is able to confirm whether or not the statements were in fact made at all because we did not keep transcripts of the conference, nor did we believe that those attending might a ttempt to use statements-in this way. The exercise which Mr Moore undertook was intended to be a background briefing for the press prior to the Chief Minister's press conference. I would be surprised if, on learning of these views, you were not concerned also. On the other hand, if spokesmen for the opposition are to approach debates in the Assembly in this way, I can assure you that I will move to ensure that my officers' legitimate interests are protected in future. Yours sincerely, Ray McHenry. That is an outrageous letter from the head of a department to a member of this Assembly. In my view, Mr Speaker, it at least constitutes ground for investigation as a breach of privilege. T,here is a clear threat contained in that last paragraph which I do not appreciate in the slightest. Mr Speaker, I will point out a number of factual problems with the position that Mr McHenry is taking on this matter and which I think are dazzling. If Northern Territory public servants are used in a public context by a minister, as indeed ministers are entitled to request public servants to be used for those purposes, and if those public servants are misquoted, there is a clear and proper course of action for those public servants to follow. Nobody except a member of this Assembly crosses that bar except under very special circumstances.and all public servants in the Northern Territory, particularly departmental heads, are represented in this Assembly by responsible ministers of the government. The responsible minister in this case happens to be the Deputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. Mr Ray McHenry did not have sufficient wit and judgment as head of the Northern Territory Development Corporation to contact his minister first to point out to him where he considered factual errors were made in statements made by the opposition in the Assembly. The minister could then have used the avenues available to him by way of a suspension of standing orders or a ministerial statement to rebut those incorrect statements. As we know, the minister is not necessarily required to give the opposition an opportunity even to respond to it. I would be surprised if any honourable member in this Assembly has had something similar to this brought to his attention by a departmental head in the Legislative Assembly. It is absolutely outrageous. As I said before, the best thing one can say for it is that it shows an absolutely gross lack of judgment on the part of the Chairman of the Northern Territory Development Corporation. I would like to point out a few other things. Mr Speaker, irrespective of whose side you are on or what you think about the casino, it would be conceded by anybody that the major government press conference to which this letter refers was, without qoubt, the media event of 1985. It was to lay all of the fears concerning the casino to rest, The Northern Territory Development Corporation used its officers in a completely public way; they were shown quite 67