Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 6 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 2064..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
We go to the last paragraph, apparently based on 26, 27 and 28 from the government's submission, which is the knockout. It says:
It is therefore beyond the powers, privileges and immunities of the legislature to call for the Report.
It is the legislature that determines its powers; it is the legislature that sets the standing orders.
Mr Corbell: No, it isn't actually.
MR SMYTH: It is the legislature that sets the standing orders.
Mr Corbell: It is the constitution that determines the legislature's powers.
MR SMYTH: The self-government act lays out the parameters, but the standing orders which we choose to suspend—and we suspend on many occasions—
Mr Corbell: Powers to govern your own affairs, not powers in relation to other arms of government.
MR SMYTH: The paragraph is written by government, but I think the case is quite clear: governments of both kinds in this place have been ordered to present documents and to be held to be accountable. It is quite consistent for us to do so. In effect, we are the highest court in the territory, and that is an established principle as well.
The problem about all of this—we heard the attacks from the Chief Minister and we heard the attacks from Mr Corbell. They invented a pseudo-attack on the arbiter to attack the Speaker of this place, because they have got a decision that they are desperate to protect, a decision that helps them keep secret a report that, based on data in the report, led to things like the closure of 23 schools, the winding back of ESA and its sucking back into the department, cuts to business, cuts to tourism and other cuts.
It is interesting to go back to a final quote from Crispin Hull to finish. It goes:
Stanhope is being foolish not to release the Costello report. Sure, he might get a few hotheads in the schools debate saying he could have acted differently. But if he handed the report out the public would probably get an understanding about the difficulty of government choices.
If, on the other hand, the Costello report shows that Stanhope made a hash of the school closures and other decisions at the time then it is clearly in the public interest that the public know about it, even if it is not in the Government's short term interest.