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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1366..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

questions to be repetitive. I was simply mulling over the fact that the shadow treasurer has used exactly the same supplementary question as the Leader of the Opposition.

As I just explained to the Leader of the Opposition, these are questions which the Leader of the Opposition will pursue during the estimates hearings on the budget and which, unfortunately, the shadow treasurer will not have an opportunity to pursue because he has been left off the estimates committee. The Liberal Party have this quite quaint managerial arrangement where, in relation to the most significant examination of budgets and budget matters, you do not engage the shadow treasurer.

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order: standing order 118 (a) requires the minister to be concise and compliant to the subject matter of the question. The subject matter is: did Mr Costello provide advice to the government on how to bring the GFS into surplus? It is not the same supplementary question as the previous supplementary question.

MR STANHOPE: I have answered the question.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, then, if you have answered it.

MR STANHOPE: I have answered the question, but I will repeat it. Mr Costello and Mr Greg Smith have prepared detailed advice to the government on a range of issues on the full suite of government service delivery and a whole range of governance issues. I have explained in detail that there are very good reasons for this. I explained most of this during the period that Mr Mulcahy was overseas. I have explained in detail over the last five or six weeks during Mr Mulcahy's absence why it is important that the report which the government has received be retained as cabinet-in-confidence. There are very good reasons for that.

Everybody that has ever been in government knows that. Certainly everybody that has sought to understand cabinet governance, the importance of cabinet government and the strengths which cabinet government delivers knows that. It is central to our Westminster notions. One of the central notions of Westminster and the strength of our democracy is cabinet government. One of the essential features of cabinet government is the capacity for cabinet to treat in confidence a whole range or raft of information. This is the principle which every government that has adopted the Westminster system of cabinet government embraces. We had an interesting debate on this last week.

We all know the extent to which the previous government embraced cabinet government and its inherent strengths. That is why, when in government, the Liberal Party—in cabinets of which Mr Smyth and Mr Stefaniak were members—documents on the Bruce Stadium fiasco, on the hospital implosion and on the Hall/Kinlyside land scandal were never released. I assume that, in relation to the decisions which the then government made on those particular issues, it relied on the advice provided to them. At least one hopes that they relied to some extent on that advice. It is probably a shocking defamation of those officials who prepared those advisings if the actions which subsequently followed were recommended to you by officials. But that is another story.

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