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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1192..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

estimates committees for three years in a row and there are times when there are issues of contention. I have sat on an estimates committee with Mr Hargreaves and Ms MacDonald. Mr Hargreaves was a good member of the estimates committee. He is also tough and there are times when things get tough and there is the closest thing that you can get in a committee to hand-to-hand fighting. Sometimes you can resolve it and sometimes you cannot.

What is going to happen this time is that the government is going to use its numbers, I presume, to close down discussion. It has been attempted in the past. When things get tough and ministers are going to be under scrutiny, they will be moving on. There will not be occasions for people to prosecute and have Mr Corbell leaving the room. He is the one who really dislikes being asked difficult questions and will always find ways to stop officials from answering questions if they get too difficult for him.

What will happen is that there will be a closing down of the process. I will lay you bets now, Mr Speaker, that there will be fewer hours of inquiry in the course of this estimates committee than we have seen in the past. There will be fewer hours of meeting because they will close things down. I will lay you odds now, Mr Speaker, that there will be fewer hours. There will be fewer opportunities for non-members of the committee to ask questions. We have seen the way that this happens at the moment when we have annual reports hearings. The behaviour of Mr Gentleman in particular when non-members of the committee wish to ask questions at annual reports hearings is a disgrace.

Ms MacDonald: Why, because you have to take a turn?

MRS DUNNE: Because you do not get a turn. You do not get a turn when Mr Gentleman is the chair of the committee because that is the way that this government behaves. This is about closing down scrutiny. It is interesting to see how touchy they are about Mr Mulcahy's chairmanship of the public accounts committee. The only people who do not like what goes on at meetings of the public accounts committee are members of the Stanhope government. What is the public accounts committee doing? It is inquiring into failings in the planning system and it is inquiring into failings in the waiting list system. It is raising difficult questions for people such as Mr Corbell and they really do not like difficult questions.

He shunted off the waiting list issue to somebody else with a hospital pass, but there are still important issues. They are about to look at things such as an audit of the public housing system. I am sure that members across both sides of this place will be interested in seeing ways and means of improving our performance in the public housing system, but the government does not like the truth being brought out. What we are seeing with this travesty of a motion is an obliteration of the tradition—a short tradition, 15 years or so—of this place that the estimates committee process is open and it is clear. The government has just made it partisan for the first time. For the first time it has become partisan because we have a majority government that is saying that it will flex its muscles.

As we have seen over the past two days, Jon Stanhope has proved himself to be a complete hypocrite over openness and accountability in government. Let's go back to what he said on 14 March 2001. One of the things he said was, "We will not make a


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