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Duby out, Humphries
in? Chaos over vote
By LEANNE MASON
Craig Duby lost his job as Leader of the Opposition last night after holding the position for only 6Vt hours.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Liberal and Labor parties used their combined numbers to change the Legislative Assembly Standing Orders to ensure that the leader of the largest non-government party, Gary Humphries, was appointed.
The move effectively over-rode a vote earlier in the day when a majority of non-Government mem bers voted Mr Duby in as Leader of the Opposition over the Liberal Leader, Mr Humphries.
But Mr Humphries' position was challenged late last night in a point of order and the Speaker, David Prowse, said he would seek a legal opinion on it.
The events were part of a chain of happenings that earlier had caused the ACT Deputy Chief Minister, Wayne Berry, to fore shadow the possibility of an early election.
It began at 2.30pm when the former Liberal Party Leader, Tre vor Kaine, resigned as Leader of the Opposition to allow the new Liberal Leader, Gary Humphries, a chance of taking the job.
But the Liberals at this time did not have the numbers.
The Residents Rally Leader, Bernard Collaery, who had been arguing to abolish the position, nominated Mr Duby.
It was apparent the MLAs who were not members of the two ma jor parties had met to do some thing about the position and Mr
Craig Duby: lost the job after
oVz hours yesterday.
Duby was able to defeat Mr Hum phries with the assistance of these MLAs. But it took two ballots.
In the first ballot, the vote was tied at six votes each.
Clearly, the three Residents Rally MLAs, Dennis Stevenson, Mr Duby and his political partner, Carmel Maher, were the people voting for Mr Duby.
On the other hand, the five Lib eral MLAs and Independent Mi chael Moore were voting for Mr Humphries.
A second ballot was called in an attempt to break the deadlock. This time Mr Humphries lost a vote which allowed Mr Duby to be elected. What followed was specu lation about who had abstained from the vote.
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The ALP attempted to suggest that Mr Moore had voted for Mr Humphries in both ballots and that a Liberal Member who had
betrayed Mr Humphries by ab staining. Late last night, Mr Moore admitted he nad ab stained from the second ballot.
As soon as it was clear Mr
Duby had been elected to the position, he announced in the Chamber that he did not want the job. He, like the Residents Rally, believed that where there were five non-government groupings it was inappropriate to nave a Leader of the Opposition. Instead, he wanted to be known as coordinator of non-govern ment business.
Outside the Chamber he an nounced he would donate the ad ditional salary that went with the role to charity. He would divide the additional staff among all non-government groupings, but he would keep the executive car.
Mr Humphries described the move to elect Mr Duby to the position as a "shabby deal" done on the floor of the Assembly, an other "damning nail on the lid of the coffin of the Assembly".
Mr Humphries said those who had voted for Mr Duby mis understood what the Opposition was. "Opposition is not those people who aren't in Govern ment; it is, by tradition, parties which form the alternative gov ernment," he said. He was the leader of the largest non government grouping in the As
sembly and, for this reason, he believed he was the most appro priate person to take on the role.
However, Mr Collaery said the ACT Self-Government Act did not provide for a Leader of the Opposition. He suggested the two major parties had combined on the first day of self-govern ment in 1989 to amend the As sembly's Standing Orders to provide for the position.
Last night after an adjourn ment, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Bill Stefaniak, moved to change the Assembly's Standing Orders relating to the establishment of a Leader of the Opposition. He proposed the Or ders be rewritten so that the lead er of the largest non-government party filled the position.
Rally MLA Norm Jensen moved an amendment to the mo tion to delete the position of Leader of the Opposition from the Standing Orders. Mr Collaery suggested Mr Stefaniak's propos al was illegal as the Liberal and Labor parties could not deem someone to hold a position.
The ALP voted with the Liber al party to deem Mr Humphries Leader of the Opposition. Inde pendent MLA Michael Moore al so supported this position.
Mr Duby and Mr Collaery ob jected to the appointment of Mr Humphries as Opposition Lead er on the basis that Mr Duby had not resigned the position. The Speaker, David Prowse, said he would seek a legal opinion on their point of order.