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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1100..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

There is a place for appropriate confidentiality of cabinet documents, but this is not one of them. It is interesting to contrast the approach of Jon Stanhope with that of his Labor colleague Morris Iemma, the Premier of New South Wales, who initiated a similar review to that conducted by Costello. When Iemma received the report of that review he released it and concurrently released the response of the government to the matters raised in the report. I have a copy of the economic and financial statement by the Premier of New South Wales. It is amazing that I can actually get documents from New South Wales but I cannot get documents from our own government. And neither can anyone else in this territory.

Then, of course, there is the claim that no government has had the courage to get out there, no government has looked at this and no government has tried this before. That is a claim that founders because the Chief Minister has no sense of history. Mr Speaker, you would remember this because you were there when it happened: in the ACT the then Chief Minister, Trevor Kaine, established what he called a Priorities Review Board in February 1990 to undertake a range of tasks that were essentially equivalent to those set out in the Costello review.

Mr Kaine released the report—I have a copy of that report—and if the Chief Minister wants to read my copy of that report he can. But we cannot read a copy of his. Mr Kaine released the report of that review and engaged in valuable community consultation about the conclusions reached by the board. Mr Iemma and Mr Kaine had the courage to release reports that raised difficult issues for their respective governments to deal with. There is a marked contrast between the actions of these two leaders and those of the current Chief Minister of the ACT. Jon Stanhope is full of self-righteousness and self-admiration when it suits him, such as during an election campaign. But when there is an opportunity for Jon Stanhope to reinforce his notions of good governance, he fails. He fails completely.

One of the sad aspects of the refusal of Jon Stanhope to release the Costello report is that the community is being denied a valuable resource. In recent days, I have had cause to re-read some of the parts of the report prepared for Trevor Kaine. It is fascinating that some of the issues have remained the same, such as excessive spaces in our government schools. It is fascinating to read the analysis undertaken by the review team, as it provides a good insight into how various issues could be responded to.

The report prepared for Premier Iemma, likewise, is a valuable commentary on the current performance of the New South Wales budget, amongst other matters. Again, it is fascinating to see, from the terms of reference, how the New South Wales government has been concerned about the state of the New South Wales budget. That government has also offered advice on how to deal with these issues that are identified with the budget, particularly those that relate to attempts to reduce spending. Despite this passage of time and the differences experienced in other jurisdictions, many issues faced by governments today remain remarkably similar. These issues require equivalent responses.

It is fascinating to read the views by Stephen Bartos in yesterday's Canberra Times, in which he argues strongly in favour of releasing the Costello report. The headline reads: "ACT public deserves to know what's in the functional review". Professor Bartos canvasses when and where you should not use government-in-confidence and comes to


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