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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (12 November) . . Page.. 3482..

Breast cancer

University of Canberra-fraud allegations

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (5.56): Mr Speaker, I might just say, before making the comment that I rise to make, that I concur with everything that Mr Smyth has just said about breast cancer and about Bosom Buddies and the fundraising evening. I agree with everything that he had to say about that and about breast cancer and the extent to which it remains a major health issue for the community and, of course, for women.

Mr Speaker, I just wanted to clarify an answer I gave in question time today in relation to the University of Canberra. Members will recall that Ms Tucker asked me a supplementary question in relation to the University of Canberra's preparedness or otherwise to make documents and other information pre-dating May available to the Ombudsman and Auditor-General inquiries that are currently being undertaken.

Members will recall that I took the question on notice, not knowing the specifics of that issue and not having been briefed on it. I was handed during question time a handwritten note from a member of my staff relaying a message from the Chief Minister's Department which indicated, as I advised the Assembly, that the university's position, having been consulted by Chief Minister's during question time, was that it was always their intention to cooperate fully with the inquiry and that there were no issues around access to documents pre-dating May.

My attention has been drawn to an equivocal statement in a letter from the university to the Ombudsman on 28 August in which the university said that it had agreed to act as if the legislation-that is, the Public Interest Disclosure Act-did apply to the university, that is, that disclosures which are made to the university after 15 May will be handled as if the PID Act is applicable. I am not entirely sure what that means and, once again, I will take some more detailed advice, but at first blush it does appear that there might be some equivocation there in relation to the very dogmatic statement which I gave to the Assembly that it was always the university's intention to ensure that all documents were available.

As I say, my attention has now been drawn to this sentence and I am not entirely sure what this sentence means, but it does appear to have some measure of equivocation in it. I will now get a full written brief on the matter and provide it to the Assembly tomorrow. I apologise for any confusion that I may have caused, but I was advised unequivocally that the university's position was that it would participate fully. I now acknowledge that there is some equivocation in that statement. I have to confess that I do not fully understand the meaning of the statement or the sentence, so I will get detailed advice in writing and table it tomorrow.

University of Canberra-fraud allegations

MS TUCKER (5.59): I would like to add a comment to the comments of the Chief Minister. My question today was particularly in relation to whether the PID Act applied. I think that there is a difference between whether all documents will be provided and whether the PID Act applies. That is an important question because there are protections

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