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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008-2009 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 322..

MR SESELJA (continuing):

Government agencies did not always exercise care to ensure arm's length dealings with ActewAGL, and its consultants.

Chief Minister, why did not government agencies exercise care to ensure arm's length dealings with ActewAGL and its consultants?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. Mr Speaker, I am sure you would understand that is not a question I can easily answer, in the context of decisions or actions that may have been undertaken or pursued or decisions taken on relationships or the nature of relationships that members of the Chief Minister's Department or other departments might have had with ActewAGL or with the proponents of this particular development. It is simply not possible for me to put myself in the shoes of those that had those discussions, those relationships or those consultations.

In relation to the Auditor-General's report, the government accepts the report. I am awaiting detailed advice on the content and the findings. I certainly have preliminary advice on the context of the report. I am happy to inform the Assembly that the advice I have received to date is that the government should be disposed to accept all of the recommendations contained within the report. The advice I have received points me to those parts of the report in which the Auditor-General has stated explicitly and up front that all existing government processes were complied with, and complied with by all agencies.

The Auditor-General does then, of course, go on to conclude that she does not believe that those processes were as rigorous as they might be and she does certainly draw certain conclusions or make findings such as that which the Leader of the Opposition has just drawn attention to. The Auditor-General has a view that—

Mr Seselja: It is not only a view.

MR STANHOPE: The Auditor-General has a view. It is not a view necessarily that we all need to accept. The context of a question, "Why did your officials act in this particular way?"is certainly not a question that I can answer, because I was not there; I was not a party to those conversations; my officials were not subject to direction in relation to these issues. They, in pursuing their duty as senior, responsible, dedicated and conscientious servants of the ACT, pursued their responsibilities as they felt appropriate.

In the wash, the Auditor-General, casting an eye over correspondence in relation to these issues, has drawn certain conclusions. I cannot agree with or gainsay some of those, certainly without far deeper understanding of and advice on the particular issues. In that regard, I look forward to meeting with the Auditor-General to discuss these issues. I received an invitation from her today. She advises me that she has extended the same invitation to the Leader of the Opposition and the Parliamentary Convenor of the Greens to meet with her for a perspective on her report and some explanation of the nature of her findings. I look forward very much to that meeting with the Auditor-General. I, similarly, will put to the Auditor-General some of my perspectives in relation to her report.

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