Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008-2009 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 334..
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. In relation to the coroner's report into the fire, everybody is aware of my views in relation to that. The matter of that particular report, of course, has been taken on appeal by others affected by the report and we await with great interest the outcomes of that appeal. It might be that after that appeal is finalised Mrs Dunne and I might actually exchange further opinions in relation to it. I think we will await the outcome of the appeal in relation to the coroner's report into the fire. I have nothing to add at this stage to comments that I have previously made.
In relation to the Auditor-General's report, as I have said before, we accept all the recommendations. We accept that some very valid criticisms have been made in
relation to process, in relation to engagement and in relation to consultation. The Auditor has pointed to issues in relation to some of the operating procedures or decisions around the role and function of the strategic projects group within the government. We accept those criticisms. They are criticisms well made and we have responded and will respond genuinely.
Having said all that, you know, just because a report is written in relation to anything, it does not mean—
Mr Smyth: But.
MR STANHOPE: Well, it is but.
Mr Smyth: You accept it, but you do not really accept it. You are saying but.
MR STANHOPE: Well, no. We disagree with aspects of it. Is there a genuine suggestion from the opposition in this place or anybody in this place that the written word from any statutory authority or official is manna and that it cannot be disagreed with, cannot be debated and cannot be teased out? That is just nonsense. It is the position that someone would put in order to seek particular advantage.
It is quite reasonable and appropriate for me or for my officials, as they have in relation to this particular Auditor-General's report, to say to me in their advice to me, "Chief Minister, we believe all of the recommendations made are reasonable and should be accepted, and we will implement them. However, there are aspects around the context in which some of the recommendations have been made and around the way in which the Auditor-General would assume they would be implemented that raise serious issues of concern to us. They draw conclusions with which we do not agree. They are based on evidence which we do not believe exists or, if it does, we do not believe leads to the conclusion which the Auditor-General has arrived at.
I think it is quite reasonable for my officials to give me that advice and for me to take that advice seriously, and that is what I am saying. I am in receipt of advice from my senior officials in relation to this report which says, yes, many of the criticisms are justified; there are issues we need to respond to, and we will, but there are aspects of the report with which we simply do not agree.