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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2498..


MRS BURKE (continuing):

and how it happened. Chief Minister, given similar comments made by you on commercial television news highlighting how disappointed you were and that you took the leak on the report "very seriously", when did this investigation occur and has it been completed? If so, who was involved? How was the investigation conducted and what was the outcome?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mrs Burke for her question. I did take the apparent leak of the Vardon report extremely seriously. I regard it as an extreme breach of public service discipline, and indeed of the essential responsibility by public servants to retain information as confidential, to respect it, to deal with it only with the appropriate authority, and to not release it inappropriately. I regard all leaks of any information by public servants of information provided by ministers or government as quite grave and serious issues.

I continue to be concerned that details of the Vardon report were provided to the Canberra Times I think on the very day that the report was provided to me. I instituted an investigation and inquiry. I directed the chief executive officer of the Chief Minister's Department to undertake a rigorous investigation, an internal inquiry, in relation to the release of information contained in the Vardon report. The chief executive did that by identifying each of those officers within the department that had been provided with a copy of the report or had information in relation to the report perhaps or potentially made available to them.

I understand that the chief executive required or demanded of each person in the ACT public service that either had had a copy provided to him or her or had had access to information contained in the report to provide him with a written statement of his or her involvement with the report and sought from him or her a declaration as to the appropriateness or otherwise of his or her handling and treatment of that particular report and information.

The matter was treated extremely seriously. Directions were given to all officers within the ACT public service that may have had access to the report to give an explanation or undertaking in relation to the way in which they dealt with or handled the report or information in relation to it. As a result of that, there was no explanation provided by anybody identified as having had any contact with the report as to how information contained in the report might have been relayed to the Canberra Times or to any journalist. The chief executive of the Chief Minister's Department then advised me that he saw nothing to be gained by further pursuit of the inquiry.

However, let it be said that I regard it as an extremely serious breach of professional and ethical standards by a public servant somewhere within the ACT public service. I take it extremely seriously. I have advised the chief executive officer that, as a result of the level of my dissatisfaction with this breach, on the next instance of what I regard as a serious breach of professionalism, standards or security within the ACT public service, I will expect a full police inquiry of him.

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, why did you choose not to have the Australian Federal Police investigate the leak, as is commonly the practice with serious issues, given the very serious nature of the report relating to the care of children by the territory?


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