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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3132..

MR QUINLAN: That is rather contingent on what I find out in the first place. You can either cop a "soon", or I will look it up and get back to you.

Vardon report

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope. Chief Minister, yesterday, after question time, you explained that the Minister for Health also had an advance copy of the Vardon report, yet you said:

I have been advised today that it probably was also provided to the office of the Minister for Health, but I repeat the comments I made in relation to my confidence in my ministerial colleagues and their officers. I guarantee absolutely that the leak of the Vardon report did not come from the executive.

Chief Minister, are you accusing the senior public servants who had access to the report, or Commissioner Vardon, of leaking the report, considering that you have given an absolute guarantee that it was not leaked by the executive?

MR STANHOPE: My office received a call from a journalist, before the official release of the Vardon report, in which the journalist said, "I have the report." It may be that she did not have the report but that is what she said. She certainly had information from the report. However, she is a journalist I respect and I do not believe that she would say to my office that she had the report when she did not have it.

The fact that a journalist rang my office and claimed to have a report on the day that it was delivered to me is a matter of grave concern to me. As I say, I have no reason to believe that it was not true and she certainly quoted information or material from the report in the paper the next day, although it may be that she was simply given information and not the report. If the claim by the journalist is true-and I proceeded on the assumption that she was telling the truth when she said that she had the report-that is completely unacceptable to me.

As I have indicated, I then directed the chief executive of the Chief Minister's Department to take certain steps in relation to that. I have given the details of the steps that he took in the Assembly in response to questions. I will guarantee that the report was not released by staff in any ministerial office-that the report did not come from a minister's office-which leaves us with just one assumption to make: that it was released by someone else.

If it was released by someone else, as I say, that is a matter of grave concern to me. I have indicated in this place that the advice I received was that there was nothing to be gained by pursuing the inquiries that the chief executive instigated any further than they were pursued. I accept that position but I have indicated to the chief executive that, if there is another instance in the ACT public service of that degree of disloyalty to this government and to professional responsibilities and duties, another instance of the leaking of a report of this order, then I expect that the police will be involved. In fact, I will involve them myself.

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