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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1044..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

multi-unit and commercial projects in Canberra. It is a vindication of the investment and the leadership the government has shown in improving the planning system in the ACT, and it is a vindication that this territory is indeed moving towards becoming one of the best practice jurisdictions for planning and development assessment in Australia.

Budget—functional and structural review

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, some weeks ago you received the Michael Costello report on the functional and structural review. You have steadfastly refused to release this report, despite widespread calls for its release from business groups, unions, community organisations and, of course, this opposition. Despite your continued refusal to release this report, it is evident you appreciate that you are not being open and transparent. Those are your words as used recently on ABC radio. Why is it that you have permitted Michael Costello to provide briefings on his report to selected business leaders and representatives of trade unions? What parameters have you placed on Mr Costello in presenting these briefings?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mrs Burke for the question. I think all members, particularly those who have served in previous governments, are aware that initially in the cabinet context a range of rules exists around confidentiality—and for very good reasons. I do not think there would be a single member of any cabinet—indeed I would hope that there is not a single member of any parliament—who does not fully understand and accept the sense of the rules that have been developed and implemented, acknowledged and respected in every parliament in Australia, and indeed throughout the world, that pursues a Westminster form of democracy and has embraced a cabinet government, about the need for cabinet to have available the best possible advice—frank and fearless advice, advice which from time to time is prepared specifically for a purpose of cabinet in a framework and in a way and with a content that would not have been possible to be pursued were the document to be prepared, presented or made available for public scrutiny.

Every member of any cabinet knows that to be a vital part of the cabinet process. Every member of a ministry that has been involved in a cabinet budget process knows it most specifically in relation to issues a cabinet will consider in the context of preparing a budget. It is in that context that the structural and functional review was commissioned. That is quite clear from the terms of reference. Term of reference No 1 of the functional and strategic review goes straight to the heart in the context of the budget by use of the words "for the purposes of the budget"et cetera. It is a part and a feature, I think, of all the terms of reference of the functional review that specific advice for the cabinet be prepared in the context of a budget—the budget which we are currently in the process of preparing.

That is the basis on which I commissioned the strategic and functional review, those are the terms of reference for the writing of the functional review, and that is the basis on which the commission was accepted by Mr Costello and Mr Smith. The report was prepared at my specific instigation for the purposes of cabinet in its budget deliberations. That is the way in which this cabinet-in-confidence budget document is being utilised. It has not been released, nor have its recommendations been released.

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