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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 3 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 784..


Legal Aid

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question to Mr Humphries is on legal aid. Mr Humphries, is it not a fact that you put out a joint media statement with Mr Daryl Williams, the Commonwealth Attorney, in which you, at his request, deliberately obfuscated the situation, or made it less clear, because he did not want the fact that he had given you more money to be known around the States and to give a bargaining point to the States? If you put out a media statement, Mr Minister, why would you not make it clear and accurate and not subsequently engage in semantics?

MR HUMPHRIES: Absolutely not, Mr Speaker. I quote from Mr Wood's press release what he said about the agreement between Mr Williams and me:

... the agreement will provide for maintenance of legal aid expenditure on commonwealth cases at 95/96 levels.

If you confused Commonwealth funding of Commonwealth matters with Commonwealth expenditure on Commonwealth matters, that is not my fault. If you did not understand what we were saying, that is not my fault; but it was perfectly clear. Had you checked with my office beforehand, you would have been under no illusion whatever that we had said that we would accept nothing less than $3.006m, and we got nothing less than $3.006m. The front page of the Canberra Times got it right the next day. No obfuscation confused them, apparently. The other media reports of that night all understood it to be a complete victory for the ACT. Why were you the only person who could not understand it?

Totalcare Incinerator

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Minister for the Environment, Mr Humphries. I remind him that it is my second question on the environment. When I asked you a question a couple of weeks ago, you noted that it was my first question on the environment. Here is my second one. I have given the Minister notice of what I am about to ask him. Mr Humphries, you will be aware that a number of concerns have been raised about the burning of waste at Totalcare. From my perspective, one of the problems in debating the issue is the lack of concrete, verifiable information about just what is being burnt there. Will you undertake in this Assembly today to do the following two things as a matter of urgency: Firstly, undertake a verified inventory of all materials currently being stored at the facility for incineration; and, secondly, establish a transparent monitoring system at Totalcare so that every item burnt in the incinerator is recorded and the temperature at which it is burnt is also recorded? Once you have one month's worth of records, will you then table those records in the Assembly so that the members and the public have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not the incinerator is safe? Will you then maintain this system so that if any future concerns are raised the public has access to accurate information? I should add, Minister, that I will be placing a motion on the notice paper today which would give effect to these points and several others, if the Government does not believe it can respond to my question. If in the meantime you can convince me the incinerator does not pose a public health problem, I will remove the motion.


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