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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 7 Hansard (16 June) . . Page.. 2291..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

establish a select committee of privileges into you."The position of the Liberals and the Greens on this matter is simply untenable and it is completely unreasonable. I go back again to chapter 26 of the standing orders, matters constituting contempt:

A person shall not, by fraud, intimidation, force or threat of any kind, by the offer or promise of any inducement or benefit of any kind, or by other improper means, influence a Member in the Member's conduct ...

We are yet to hear the suggestion from any member here this morning where in Mr Cormack's letter there is fraud, where in Mr Cormack's letter there is intimidation, where in Mr Cormack's letter there is force or threat of any kind. Where? Tell us. Explain it. You have not. There is no case and there is no justification for the establishment of this select committee.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (11.23): The points that I would make have been made by my colleagues, and made well. This action today in this place by the Liberal Party and the Greens really is an outrage. There are two pieces of correspondence that go to the heart of the issue. One is a press release issued by Jeremy Hanson on behalf of the Liberal Party. In that press release certain claims are made. One claim is that the document was censored by the government to try to avoid this embarrassing fact becoming public. The press release states:

The only rational explanation to remove these words was to cover up the government's embarrassment and there is no legitimate excuse for their removal.

The press release concludes:

This shows yet another case of a shameful attempt to cover up the Minister's embarrassment by misuse of process ...

Those are significant claims. The point that has been made, and made well, is that the Freedom of Information Act is not administered by ministers; it is administered by departments and by officials. What Mr Hanson and the Liberal Party are saying in this press release is not a challenge aimed at the minister over something the minister is alleged to have done. The allegation is that public servants, those within the chain of decision making in relation to the administration of the Freedom of Information Act within the department of health, pursued these particular strategies.

At the heart of the matter—and this is what has not been understood—is the woeful lack of understanding by members of the opposition and the Greens of how the Freedom of Information Act is administered. The Freedom of Information Act and decisions made under it are made exclusively by public servants—exclusively. No minister is involved in the decision-making process on whether to release or not release or whether to release in full or in part.

The allegations contained in this press release are allegations of inappropriate behaviour—behaviour lacking integrity and behaviour that is not consistent with


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