18th November 2015
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [4.31 p.m.]: I find the quality of the debate and the behaviour of members in this House on this motion today to be amongst the worst I have seen in my time in the House.
The SPEAKER: Order! Indeed.
Mr GREG PIPER: It greatly grieves me that we have the Hon. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young in the public gallery, who I am sure is shocked and horrified by the behaviour of members in this House. As one of the two Independent members on the crossbench I need to speak—
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Lake Macquarie will be heard in silence. It is not often that our Independent members have an opportunity to speak, and they will be heard in silence.
Mr GREG PIPER: Leave us alone.
The SPEAKER: Order! Leave him alone indeed.
Mr GREG PIPER: This motion of censure is of the utmost significance, one of the two most significant motions that can be taken against an individual in this House, and it should be taken very seriously. I am doing that. I appreciate the offer of the shadow Attorney General for a briefing earlier today on the matter. However, I prefer to refer to Hansard and other media that have covered the issue. I will dispense with paragraph (2) of the motion as I have come to the conclusion that the maladministration of portfolio is completely baseless and an irrelevant matter that I do not believe can be substantiated. As a matter of fact, if it were to be debated more broadly I believe we would find that the Attorney General has been hardworking and a good Attorney General who has carried a significant workload in this House. Like other Attorney Generals in this House from both sides, she should be given some respect for the difficulty of her portfolio.
In relation to the failure of the Attorney General to fully and properly explain her, and I emphasise, "apparent" breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct and the Members Code of Conduct, this is a significant issue for me. We are debating a very serious motion on what are "apparent" breaches as alleged by the Opposition. Certainly the Attorney General could have been significantly more expansive in her answers. In your own rulings over time, Madam Speaker, the Minister cannot be directed how to answer a question. In my opinion the question was answered very early in the piece, but perhaps not to the satisfaction of the Opposition.
It could have been much more expansive. But the Attorney General dealt with the issue of whether she had administered and discharged her responsibilities under the Ministerial Code of Conduct and the Members Code of Conduct. Members might not wish to heed that answer. We all understand that it is the job of the Opposition to robustly pursue the Government. We also have to be fair in the way in which we deal with these issues. I have great reservations about this motion being moved at the very last moment in the year without really giving the detail of what it is that the Attorney is alleged to have done.
Dr Hugh McDermott: She got 16 questions.
Mr GREG PIPER: I heard the 16 questions. I believe this is a rather hollow attack. I have stood in this place and defended other members of this House from this dispatch box, and I have defended against the Labor Government, and the very new Premier of this State, Nathan Rees, when he was unfairly attacked in this House as well. I will do it again for members from either side of the House. In this case, I will not support this censure motion.
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Sydney will be heard in silence. There will be no interjections.
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