Labor Members of Parliament

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) (22:59): I rise to make a few comments on the motion moved by the Hon. Rob Lucas:

That this council notes with concern the actions taken by Labor MPs and statements made by Labor MPs both inside and outside the parliament.

Most people would know me in this place as being pretty easy going, not being offended very often and pretty much letting things roll with the punches and getting on with the business of being a member of parliament. However, one action that I need to make some comment about has been the total denial of the member for Elder for her involvement and her understanding of the 'You can't trust Habib' flyer, and the disgraceful attack by the South Australian branch of the Labor Party on Caroline Habib at the last election in the electorate of Elder. Ms Annabel Digance, the member for Elder, often says, 'Oh, I didn't know anything about it'. Well, she has never said that to me, but she has said it to other people: 'I didn't know anything about it'.

In fact, when confronted when she was doorknocking she said she didn't know anything about it. Yet, in the four years that she has been a member of this parliament she has had ample opportunity to put on the record who did it, because we know that she knows who did it. Her husband used to confront volunteers prior to the election, saying, 'We've got dirt on your candidate, we're going to destroy her', and a whole range of other adjectives that went with those sorts of attacks on a quality young woman.

The Labor Party often criticises the Liberal Party for not having enough women in parliament, yet they are very happy to stoop to a particularly low point to try to defeat—and did successfully defeat—Caroline Habib. I think we need to bring to the attention of the people of Elder this denial by the member for Elder. She constantly says that she knew nothing of it, yet her family did; she benefited from it. She has never said that it was wrong and has never acknowledged that it was an unprecedented attack on another women running for parliament.

We on all sides of politics try to encourage quality women to run for parliament, yet the Labor Party unleashed one of the most unpleasant attacks we have ever seen on another candidate. We see this pattern of behaviour on the eve of the election. There was an incident described by Mr Greg Digance, Annabel's husband, that one of their volunteers, their daughter, had been assaulted by a Young Liberal and they called the police. So the police are there and witness statements are being taken. I was fortunate enough to get the CCTV footage from that school after the election: it was absolutely false. But, again, here we have a pattern of behaviour of people denying that they know anything or making things up for their own benefit.

We look at the classic misleading of the electorate by Annabel Digance with the Repat. Often at a polling booth on polling day people would be saying, 'Here, vote for Annabel, she's a nurse. She'll look after you.' Of course, in her election propaganda there were plenty of photographs with Annabel Digance under the Repat sign saying, 'We're going to look after you.' We know that was all false: the Repat is now closed; she is the local member.

It bordered the electorate of Waite. It is somewhat concerning that the member for Waite and Minister for Veterans' Affairs was happy for that facility to close on his watch as well, but this is more about Annabel Digance and her saying one thing and doing another. It is a pattern that has emerged right the way through her time in this place. As I said, she has had four years to put on the record those who were responsible for the actions. She says that it was not her fault, she did not do it, others did it. Well, she had an opportunity—four years—to correct the record, to put on record who did it and to try to clear her name, but she won't—she is not game to.

Whatever the election result, something that Annabel Digance will take to her grave is that she was the person who benefited from a particularly nasty and unpleasant racial attack on another fellow candidate. Only two nights ago—she still cannot help herself—there was a forum with the Minister for Transport and the member for Waite in relation to the Springbank Road/Daws Road intersection. A member of the public, a woman, said that she had been doorknocked by the member for Elder, Annabel Digance, and she had told her that the new intersection would have an overpass. Minister Mullighan said, 'I have no idea where she would have got that from; there is no such thing happening.'

So, again, there is a pattern of Annabel Digance saying things that are not true to try to mislead the electorate of Elder into believing that she is actually out there fighting for them. Over four years, we have never seen any admission that she did anything wrong, or that she put on the record the people who were responsible. She could do that tomorrow, but I would be very surprised if she does. She has had four years—probably nearly 300 sitting days over those four years—in which she could have easily corrected the record, but she has chosen not to. I think that is a mark of the person who we see in the seat of Elder: that she will say anything to get elected. With those few words, I commend the motion to the chamber.

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