The start of the ACT Legislative Assembly sitting week in the dying days of the election race has gone off with a surprising bang with the Liberal Party bringing a doomed no confidence motion against Health Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher.
The motion was based on the Review of Service Delivery and Clinical Outcomes at Public Maternity Units in the ACT and the recent about face on the purchase of Calvary Hospital with the changes in accounting standards.
It was doomed because no one but the Liberal Party could support it.
The ACT Greens Labor Agreement’s second provision, committing to a stable Government stipulates the Greens will “not support any other party’s no-confidence motions” and will “Maintain confidence in Chief Minister Mr Jon Stanhope and his Ministers except in instances of proven corruption or gross negligence; or for significant non-adherence to this agreement.”
ACT Greens leader Meredith Hunter said in her speech to the Assembly during debate on the motion that nothing Gallagher had done constituted gross negligence and that if a minister no longer enjoyed confidence they should not continue in that role.
“The Minister did not breach the Ministerial Code of Conduct,” Hunter said.
“The Greens do not support the No Confidence Motion.”
If the Liberal Party were, as they say, really serious about making an on the record point about Gallagher’s competence and performance you would think they would present a motion that could be supported and work with the Greens to present acceptable wording – given that they need Green votes to get any motions against the Government to pass.
The ACT Greens say although they received news of the motion yesterday afternoon, they didn’t see the text of the motion until an hour before the chamber sat and suspect Canberra’s news organisations may have been posted the text earlier.
Despite word on the street hinting at the Chief Minister’s imminent resignation, it was still unexpected to hear Opposition MLA Brendan Smyth directly referring to the inevitability of an upcoming leadership change in the ACT.
“If the Minister can’t run health, how can she run the Territory?” Smyth asked.
Katy Gallagher told the CityNews she was not aware of any date set for a leadership change.
“I’m working on the grounds that Jon’s here. They are over exaggerated whispers that go to what this stunt this morning was about.”
The Minister had earlier told the Assembly that the Liberal Party were playing politics, a statement later repeated by the Chief Minister and Attorney General Simon Corbell.
Gallagher was emphatic about her disdain for such political grandstanding.
“This censure motion is all about politics, all about the Liberal’s quest to seek to damage my reputation. It’s not about the performance of the health system.”