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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4344..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Leave granted.

MR QUINLAN: I just want the house to be satisfied as to what I knew and the source of my information that led me to use the term "spray" or "scattergun", both of which I have used. Let me say, Mr Speaker, that the information I have came to me through media representatives. Apparently, the information, the private information, was promulgated amongst the media-I do not know by whom. But it also appears from my discussions with various people within the media that the complainant had contacted a number of people in the media and given them chapter and verse; and, as I understand it-I am not sure-was chasing the media trying to push the case.

Even though he had a PID, a public interest disclosure-and it is a he; I picked that up in my interchanges with the media-and the government was hamstrung by that, the complainant was actually going to various media outlets with "the story". I do not know whether he was receiving encouragement or not.

There was a number of complaints, unrelated incidents, over a couple of agencies at least, including Procurement Solutions, including the department of education. That led me to the, I think, quite natural conclusion that this was "a spray".

Mrs Burke: You didn't know that at that time.

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Burke!

MR QUINLAN: I am telling you that is the conclusion I drew. I drew this conclusion from talking to media people in a very informal way and they described to some extent the exchanges they had with the complainant, without identifying them, to their credit. I drew the conclusion that there was a bit of "a spray"; that there was a scattergun range of complaints that this person had put forward.

One of the people that I had spoken to and got some feedback from-he was very discreet, as he should be-was Chris Uhlmann of the ABC. As you would know, he backed away from this subject the day after he had addressed it because in the meantime he had spoken to the complainant. He got on radio the morning after he had first broached the subject and used words that were code for, "I'm not touching this one until I find out a bit more."

I have spoken to a number of people in the media from more than one radio outlet, the press and television. One of the television reporters had also been approached by the complainant. So I thought this is a bit of a spray. And maybe if I might just make a wild assumption, possibly that is why some of the people down the chain from the Minister for Education and Training did not take it all that seriously immediately. They said, "All right, we'll look at it but it looks like this guy has rolled up a whole unrelated set of complaints over a number of agencies and bundled them into a series of complaints."

From this side of the house I can appreciate why people in the department, people in the minister's office, were not dropping tools immediately they heard about some of this material and saying, "Clear the decks, put it all aside, we'll address this straightaway."


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