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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 897..


MR SPEAKER: Just stick to the subject matter of the question.

MR CORBELL: I do not know how that came about; it must be a terrible set of circumstances. Mr Speaker, I have sought to answer this question already. The point I have made is that the Community Advocate raised issues with me. Yes, she did; she came and met with me. Present at that meeting, if I recall correctly, were me, the Community Advocate, the chief executive of the department and the executive director responsible for that area within the department.

That discussion occurred. I received written advice from the department in response to the issues that were raised. I indicated on that that I wanted to be assured that these steps were being taken to address these concerns and I was assured that that was the case. The department advised me that new training was under way for staff, that compliance training in particular was being undertaken to ensure that staff were complying with the provisions of the act. I was advised that an audit was being put in place of the appropriate processes that were being undertaken within family services to ensure compliance with the act. I had no reason to believe, on the basis of those assurances, that those things were not occurring. I was advised in a written brief signed by the chief executive of the department that these things were being done. About two months later, the portfolios changed.

Mrs Dunne: "And I didn't give anyone a heads up."

MR CORBELL: I do not know whether Mrs Dunne understands how government works. You would think that she might have picked up something in all of her time in Gary Humphries's office.

Mrs Burke: Mr Speaker, I take a point of order under standing order 118 (a) and (b).

MR SPEAKER: Order! Come to the subject matter of the question. Mrs Dunne, cease your interjections. The minister should respond to the question by directing his comments through me.

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, the government relied on the government service to advise incoming ministers of any difficulties in their portfolios. I had no reason to believe that there was further difficulty because I had been told by my department-I do not know whether Mrs Burke grasped this point-that the appropriate steps were being undertaken. I had no reason to believe that those things were not being done. I had no reason to believe that those things were not being done because I had specifically raised them with my department and had been assured that those things were being done. If the department failed to honour its undertakings to its minister, then that deserves serious censure. I think that the government has indicated its view of that in the steps it has taken since that time.

MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question. Minister, given your answer, why are you now happy for the current minister, Ms Gallagher, to take the full rap for systemic organisational concerns that were raised with you 14 months ago and not addressed?


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