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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 March 2004) . . Page.. 474 ..

MR STANHOPE: I will conclude, Mr Speaker, by reflecting that I think that, as repeated in this place today, this is essentially nothing more than some incredibly shallow, puerile and petty political point scoring by Mr Hardgrave. It is shallow, it is petty, it is puerile and it is enormously to be regretted.

That is one level at which one might view this matter. But at another level there is a deeper and darker side to it: that the federal government would ban a head of government from attending and appearing at a citizenship ceremony on the basis of something he said that they did not like; that I should be banned, that I should be censored, that I should be excluded as a head of government, as Chief Minister of the ACT, from appearing at ceremonies to celebrate the citizenship of new Canberrans on the basis of something that I said that was incredibly embarrassing to the Liberals—the fact that they do not believe in reconciliation, the fact that they invaded Iraq without any guarantee, the fact that they have abrogated the rule of law and the fact that they have absolutely no commitment to human rights or these issues.

Child protection

MRS DUNNE: My question is to Mr Corbell. In your media statement of 13 February 2004 you stated that you were made aware on 3 October 2002 of problems in family services relating to the non-compliance with section 162 (2) of the Children and Young People Act. We have heard in this place that your colleague Ms Gallagher told the Chief Minister straightaway when she became aware of the breach. Why didn’t you inform the Chief Minister when you became aware of the breach, and why didn’t you inform your successor as minister when you handed over the portfolio to her?

MR CORBELL: I am not sure that, technically, you can ask me this question, as I am not the responsible minister. I am happy to answer it nevertheless. In answer to why I did not advise my successor as minister, Ms Gallagher, I should point out—Mrs Dunne should know—that it is the role of the department to brief the incoming minister on any matters of concern in relation to the operation of the department and any issues that are outstanding. I would have thought that, if there had been an ongoing issue of compliance with a statutory obligation, the department would have drawn it to the minister’s attention. As far as I know, the department did not.

What I did when I was advised of the issue was raise it with my department, which was then education, and request that the department advise me of what steps were being taken to address this issue. Senior officers in the department comprehensively briefed me on the matter, and they assured me, both verbally and in writing, that comprehensive steps were being taken to ensure that the department complied with its statutory obligations under the act.

They advised me of new audit arrangements, new mechanisms to ensure compliance and improved training of staff. They indicated that these steps were being taken to ensure that the department met its statutory obligation under the act. This advice was further relayed in the discussion I had with the Community Advocate, when she met with me on the issue. Following those discussions, I had no reason to believe that those steps were not being taken. I certainly had no reason to believe that I needed to raise the matter with the incoming minister; that would not be the normal course of events in any case.

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