Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 825..
Mr Smyth: As the Chief Minister asserted.
Mr Humphries: As he asserted he was thrown off it.
MR SPEAKER: I thought Mr Cornwell was rather happy with the answer.
Mr Cornwell: Mr Cornwell has not said anything, Mr Speaker.
MR STANHOPE: I am giving some relevant background to the issue around the corporations power and the importance of us being a member of the corporations club. Mr Cornwell, that is some of the background and it is quite right that you should raise this important issue because the extent to which we are constrained in legislating in relation to corporations is very important and significant.
One of the difficulties we have faced over the years is that we have not been treated as a partner in relation to proposals to deal with the operation of the corporations law in Australia. As I understand the history of this matter, to the extent that the ministers in the previous government ever bothered to attend ministerial council meetings in any event-and I have to say that we are discovering quite lately just how often we were not represented at ministerial council meetings; and it really is an issue in itself and perhaps it leads to some understanding of why it was that we were not represented on the Ministerial Council on Corporations-progress was made a few years ago and agreement was reached amongst states, the territories and the Commonwealth that perhaps the ACT might be invited to join the ministerial council.
But, I think as a result of a lack of action, a lack of force, by the then Attorney, who I think was Mr Humphries, the offer to join the ministerial council was withdrawn. I think this was the result of a deal struck between the Commonwealth and New South Wales-
Mr Humphries: That is nonsense.
MR STANHOPE: You know it is not. It is absolutely true. I have this chapter and verse and I would be more than happy to make available to the Assembly that we fell at the final hurdle because the then Attorney simply did not have the energy to pursue the ACT's interests. So it really is a very sad situation for the ACT but we are rectifying it.
I have written within the last month to both the federal Attorney-General and the federal Assistant Treasurer to ask that this totally unacceptable position be reversed, that we be invited to full membership of the ministerial council and that the self-government act be amended to ensure that we do have the capacity to legislate in relation to corporations. I expect the Commonwealth to meet that appropriately.
MR CORNWELL: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. I take the Attorney-General's statement as "Yes, the media release was wrong." Therefore, I ask: what steps will you take to avoid repeating a mistake such as the one contained in this media release because, frankly sir, your credibility could be under threat until the next election if media releases are going out which are patently wrong?