ACT News

Minister Joy Burch faces another no-confidence motion in ACT Legislative Assembly

For the second year in a row, the first sitting day of the ACT Legislative Assembly included an unsuccessful motion of no-confidence against government minister Joy Burch. 

In a lengthy and sometimes heated debate, Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson called for Ms Burch to resign or be sacked from her portfolios, including education, emergency services, the arts and gaming, after a horror summer for the senior minister.

No confidence motion: The Canberra Liberals say Joy Burch should be sacked.
No confidence motion: The Canberra Liberals say Joy Burch should be sacked. Photo: Jay Cronan

Last month, Chief Minister Andrew Barr reversed moves to allow $50 notes in territory poker machines, backing down on the change made by Ms Burch days before Christmas.

Mr Barr announced the backdown a day after The Canberra Times revealed the change had taken place, and hours after Greens minister Shane Rattenbury said he would move to overturn the decision.

ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson is calling for Joy Burch to resign.
ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson is calling for Joy Burch to resign.  Photo: Rohan Thomson

Angry motorists slammed management of roadworks in Canberra's south amid gridlock, prompting Ms Burch to change temporary arrangements in place in the area. 

Last week, it was announced her chief of staff, Phillip Tardif, was retiring. Media adviser and former Australian Associated Press journalist Maria Hawthorne has taken over the role. 

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Mr Hanson identified a series of errors he attributed to Ms Burch's management, including a controversial Fringe Festival performance that featured a burlesque dancer dressed as Adolf Hitler.

He said education, child protection and community services had suffered under the minister's watch and her management of gaming regulation was inadequate. 

If a no-confidence motion is carried, Westminster conventions dictate a minister should resign. 

"How much more incompetence do ACT taxpayers have to put up with from Joy Burch," Mr Hanson said.

"She needs to resign as a minister and, if she doesn't, Andrew Barr should do the right thing and sack her."

Ms Burch slammed Mr Hanson's criticism of the Labor Party's revenue from poker machines, coming days after former chief minister Jon Stanhope described the party's position as morally and politically untenable. 

She accused the Canberra Liberals of a "desperate" move to distract attention from the leadership challenge against Prime Minister Tony Abbott and said the Liberal Party also benefited from gambling revenue in the form of corporate donations.

"What have we got from the Canberra Liberals? Complaint and complaint and complaint," Ms Burch said. 

"There's no vision. Mr Hanson and the Canberra Liberals started last year with no vision and delivered no vision, and they have come into this place again with no vision. He is indeed the ACT's Dr No, he is the great complainer." 

Government members and Greens minister Shane Rattenbury voted to defeat the motion, introduced after incoming Assembly member Meegan Fitzharris was sworn in by ACT Chief Justice Helen Murrell and delivered her first speech. 

Liberals members argued the motion should come before Mr Barr's speech outlining the government's priorities for the year ahead. The vote to defeat the motion came after 5pm.