Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2438 ..
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.08): Mr Speaker, the government will be happy to support the amendment. It is very disappointing to hear from the opposition an attempt to defend what is really a very serious matter, an attempt to trivialise what is a very serious matter. This is not just some procedural process that people are quibbling over. What occurred was that a person who is a chair of a committee demanded documents of a minister—
Mrs Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think Mr Corbell is going beyond putting the case for why a committee should be established and is attempting to prosecute the matters that should reasonably come before the committee. I would ask you—
MR CORBELL: No more than you just did.
Mrs Dunne: I have not spoken in this debate, Mr Corbell. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to ensure that the minister sticks to the principle of why there should be a committee, rather than prosecuting the matter.
MR SPEAKER: Yes. I do not think we should be anticipating the work of a committee. It has been a rather wide-ranging debate up to this point—
MR CORBELL: It has, and those opposite—
MR SPEAKER: with some reluctance, stated reluctance anyway, to get into the work of the committee, but it still seems pretty wide ranging to me. I ask members to be cautious about that.
MR CORBELL: Those opposite have had no hesitation in saying that Mr Stefaniak did nothing wrong. I assert that Mr Stefaniak did do something wrong. I assert, as I asserted in my letter to you, Mr Speaker, that Mr Stefaniak requested documents of a minister that he had no authority to request.
This is not just some procedural motion confirming that a meeting is taking place at 11 am on Friday morning and “we expect you and your officials to be there”. No, this was a letter that said, “The Standing Committee on Legal Affairs requests that you bring to the hearing the following documents: the report written by RFS officer Tim McGuffog outlining preparations for the bushfire season; all exit interviews of RFS Chief Officers and staff from 1/7/07 to date; version 2 of the strategic bushfire management plan or as much of that plan that is complete; the Yellow Edge report and the Stuart Ellis report.”
It was an explicit request, Mr Speaker, and it was a request that I took seriously. I provided all of those documents, with the exception of the exit interviews—I indicated to the committee they were staff-in-confidence—and the Stuart Ellis report, which was, and remains, a cabinet-in-confidence document. I took the committee’s request seriously. I provided those documents that I felt I was in a position to provide. I explained why I was unable to provide the other two documents. I provided three of