Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for LOCAL GOVERNMENT, Mr GUTWEIN
Are you concerned by accusations expressed by Hobart City councillors and the community, that the general manager's roll is being rorted to stack an election outcome? The general manager's roll for Hobart has closed with 1916 people and businesses, with 589 people who are not Australian citizens being empowered to vote. That number is sufficient to elect-
Mr Bacon - I thought you wanted the Chinese to vote. I thought that was the whole point.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Mr Bacon.
Mr Bacon - It was not racism; you did not like the authoritarian regime.
Madam SPEAKER - Mr Bacon, I have you on warning.
Dr WOODRUFF - That number is sufficient to elect one councillor with a full quota and two if the campaign is organised, let us say among international students. Do you agree the general manager's roll presents a risk to fair and free democratic outcomes for local government elections, and if you do what are you going to do about it?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that question and for once again convincing this House that there are very strong xenophobic undertones coming from the Greens at the moment. It is quite evident in the way that the question was worded that they want to target a particular race of people. That is what you are doing.
The Local Government Act governs the general manager's roll, the same the Local Government Act that was in place when you were in government and the rules were exactly the same.
Ms O'Connor - The CCP was not doing then what it is doing now. It is a surveillance state.
Mr GUTWEIN - It is hard to comprehend -
Ms O'Connor - Did you see Foreign Correspondent last night?
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I am going to have to put you on a warning if you continue to interrupt the Treasurer.
Mr GUTWEIN - It is hard to understand what is obviously a deep-seated hatred of a particular race of people.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The minister was asked a specific question. Is he concerned there is a risk? It is a simple question. Is he concerned and if he is, what will he do about it?
Mr BARNETT - On the point of order, Madam Speaker, it was a very lengthy question, quite comprehensive, and the minister is attempting to answer the question. You cannot tell the minister how to answer the question.
Madam SPEAKER - I know the member cannot tell the minister how the answer the question - that is lovely standing order number 45 - but there was a direct question involved. I am sure the minister is going to try to get to answer it.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I have taken personal offence at an absolute mistruth that the minister just said then about a particular race of people. You know very well this is not about a race of people, it is about a government.
Madam SPEAKER - I did not hear any particular race of people being mentioned in the question. Minister, if you could fix the offence that would be fantastic.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, I have not been asked to do anything. I would hope that you are offended because you should be by the way that you have been behaving in this place.
Madam SPEAKER - Minister, I did hear Ms O'Connor say she was offended. As we have a rule in here of trying to fix offences between individuals, could I please ask that you retract the word, 'xenophobic'?
Ms O'Connor - He said I had a specific hatred of a certain group people, which is untrue.
Mr GUTWEIN - On what basis would I retract the word 'xenophobic'?
Madam SPEAKER - You accused another individual of being xenophobic and she has taken offence. In the interest of time - we are going to run out of questions - if you could find it in the goodness of your heart to use some other word.
Dr Woodruff - Are you challenging the Chair?
Mr GUTWEIN - No, I am just seeking advice. If you would like me to use a different word to 'xenophobic', which is what you just asked me to do -
Madam SPEAKER - I ask you to retract the word 'xenophobic'.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, I retract the word 'xenophobic'.
Madam SPEAKER - Thank you. Please proceed.
Mr GUTWEIN - The behaviours are deplorable and in fact if we look at the Hansard in terms of that question, very clearly it was targeted at international students, the vast majority of whom, it is well understood, are Chinese.
Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, with respect, this is tedious repetition. He has not listened to your ruling. I am not specifically targeting any group. I am reflecting concerns in the community. Is the minister concerned?
Madam SPEAKER - I do think that is a valid point you have made. So please, Treasurer, and thank you for withdrawing the accusation. Please proceed.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, as I have indicated, the Local Government Act is the same Local Government Act that was used in terms of elections when members opposite were in government. The act is being complied with and on that basis I am certain that this election will be conducted as it should be.