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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3302..


Public service

MR BERRY (5.07): Mr Speaker, two or three times in the last few weeks-I think once in here-I have been accused of attacking the public service in the ACT in relation to matters which I have raised in this place and outside of this place. The other day I went to what was described as "The new era-the ACT public service moves forward", which was launched by Mr Humphries. Nobody in principle would have any difficulty with improving the services that are provided by public servants to the people of the ACT. What troubled me about it was that it seemed to me that the message that was being sent was that many of the problems in the ACT have been because of our public servants. I regard that as an attack on them, and many public servants would do so as well.

I will not go through Mr Humphries' press release in relation to this matter, I will just read one paragraph. It says:

However, there is a clear need to move forward to build on those strengths and acknowledge and rectify weaknesses. Reviews such as the Bruce Stadium audit and the hospital implosion inquiry have revealed specific areas of weakness in management and governance.

The suggestion is that our public service is in some way responsible for the hospital implosion. That is the subliminal suggestion. Overwhelmingly, there were very few public servants close to the issue. These were government issues, and I just want to stand in this place and defend those public servants who give good and loyal service to the people of the ACT and behave as public servants should to work for the government of the day.

I absolutely refuse to accept that the public service can be connected in general to the Bruce Stadium and the hospital implosion. It was not the public service which decided that we would have a Bruce Stadium for $12.8 million; that was a government decision. It was not the public servants who decided to blow up the Canberra Hospital; that was a decision of government.

I make that statement in defence of our public servants who, by and large, give the most sterling and loyal service to people in the territory.

Public service

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (5.10), in reply: Mr Speaker, once again Mr Berry puts his bias on these issues. There is no doubt that the decision to use implosion as a methodology was not a decision of government as such. A decision was not taken in cabinet to implode the hospital. That came out very clearly, Mr Speaker. Some public servants were responsible to ensure the safety of the process, and that is a matter that has now been investigated by the coroner. Of course, Mr Berry would love to make that simply the responsibility of the Chief Minister at the time. Not so.

Secondly, Mr Berry refers to the $12.8 million decision. There was indeed a government decision to try to get the excellent stadium that we now have for that kind of money. Probably that was an impossible task at the time. The issue, of course, actually never


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