Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 437 ..
MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The issue is quite simply that in this case, when I asked Mr Sullivan a direct question—“Why did you tell the estimates committee that the TOC was not in final form when three days before it had been approved?”—he accepted the premise of the question and said, “Largely because we did not want to reveal the information at that time.” There is no doubt about this. Mr Sullivan—by his own admission, in the estimates and in public statements afterwards, where he said “and if the situation arose, I would do it again”—has admitted that he gave false and misleading evidence to the committee. The standing orders in relation—
Mr Stanhope: That’s not true.
MRS DUNNE: You can argue the case in turn, Mr Stanhope. Standing order 277 looks at the issues that are possible issues of contempt. It says at (l), dealing with offences by the witness, at (iii), that a witness “give any evidence which the witness knows to be false or misleading in a material particular, or which the witness does not believe on reasonable grounds to be true or substantially true in every material particular”.
Mr Sullivan, when he said that the TOC was not finalised, knew that it was. The documents show that, and he admits that he knew that. That is why, first and foremost, we must establish a privileges committee to address what we do with a public servant—a public official, a senior official—who admits that he gave misleading evidence to a committee. This Assembly and the committee system that supports it cannot operate if we create a new doctrine that says that it is all right for senior officials to give misleading evidence to a committee.
This Assembly must act today to put a stop to this. We must not create a situation where we say to senior officials: “If it’s not convenient for a committee to know, you can lie to them. You can dissemble; you can tell them something which patently isn’t true. The only reason we will find out about it is if someone is enterprising enough and does enough hard work to put together a paper trail that will demonstrate that when someone said that something hadn’t been decided, it had been decided.”
The committee system should not have to operate with someone second guessing it and running freedom of information requests to find out whether officials are telling the truth. We cannot do it like this. We must today establish this privileges committee, and we must include the Treasurer in this.
Mr Stanhope: And you as well.
MRS DUNNE: We must include the Treasurer in this because we must find out what the Treasurer knew—whether she knew that this matter was untrue and, if she did know whether this matter was untrue, what she did to correct the record.
I commend the motion to the Assembly.
Mr Stanhope: And what you’re going to do to correct the record in relation to the allegations against you.