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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1213..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

parliamentary committees. It is a requirement under the law that they do so. I, of course, encourage all public servants to be honest and forthright in all their evidence before any parliamentary committee.

I will not resile from the point that, as an invited witness before the same inquiry, I should have tempered my honest opinion. Do you think the public might hold some interest in being assured that their elected representatives—their politicians—will also give frank, fearless and honest evidence to parliamentary committees; or is it the position of the Liberal Party that in evidence I, for instance, give before committees to which from time to time they call me, they would prefer me not to be frank, open and honest? Would they perhaps prefer me to shuffle around issues so I get to the point of saying, "Well, I have an opinion on this but my opinion is contrary to opinions expressed by previous witnesses. They are public servants, so just let my opinion go by. We won't get to what I truly and honestly think"?

It is an absolute nonsense to suggest that in any committee of this parliament I appear before, this community would expect me to be anything other than honest, open and forthright. That is what I am and that is what I will continue to be. It is of concern to me that the Liberal Party fails to get to the heart of the issue in relation to the particular responsibilities and accountability of ministers, of parliaments and of public officials. That is at the heart of the issue. I must say I regret the incredibly shallow approach adopted by the ABC in pursuing the issue today.

Let me paint this picture for the ABC: it would be interesting if tomorrow Ross Solly interviewed the general manager of radio station 666 and asked her to put in a last minute plea to Peter Costello for an enhanced budget for the ABC. I wonder how the general manager of the ABC would respond to a question inviting a response from Ross Solly such as, "General manager, don't you think the people of Canberra have an interest in what you think about your budget? Why don't you have a go at your minister now and ask, 'Minister, I think I need another 10 journalists down here. What do you think about that?'"

It is open to the general manager of the ABC to approach one of her journalists and ask to be interviewed about the ABC's budget. Have you ever heard an interview of that order on the ABC? I think not. I would have been interested in hearing this morning, or yesterday morning, the commissioner's response to a question from the ABC on whether or not the commissioner was satisfied with the level of resources being applied to him in the context of the national federal police responsibility.

Mr Hargreaves: Good question!

MR STANHOPE: It would have been a fantastic question. One wonders why that question was not asked.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order!

MR STANHOPE: One wonders what response might have been given by


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