Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 454 ..
We cannot afford to lower the bar. The government would like us to lower the bar, but by turning a blind eye to this we lower the bar not just to our own detriment but to the detriment of the people who pay our wages—the people of Canberra, who pay the taxes, who build the dams, who pay our wages, who build the roads, who fund the hospitals. We cannot afford to create a situation where officials are allowed to give misleading information, get away with it and not correct the record, or to decide, “I will give misleading information because I don’t think it is appropriate for the committee to know.” It is not that official’s right to make that decision; it is the committee’s right. The committee has to work with all the cards uncovered or it cannot do its work. We cannot represent the people of the ACT unless we are working with the truth.
The government’s amendments are laughable. The fact that they would try so hard to deflect from the problem that confronts us shows that they have no understanding of how government operates. We will not be supporting the Greens’ amendment to delete Ms Gallagher from the motion. I think that it is essential, for the completeness of this situation, that we know what the minister knew and whether it ever crossed her mind to correct the record or whether she thought it was appropriate to correct the record. What did she know? Did she ever look at the letters that she got from Actew Corporation after that evidence and say, “Gee, that doesn’t quite marry up”? It may have completely missed her but we need to know whether it ever crossed her mind that she should fix the record. The minister could have perhaps addressed that by coming in here today and speaking in this debate, but she has not. So the issues, as Mr Seselja has said, are left unanswered.
We will not be supporting the government’s amendments to Ms Bresnan’s amendment and, at this stage, we will not be supporting Ms Bresnan’s amendment either.
MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella) (11.16): I rise to support Ms Bresnan’s amendment and Mr Corbell’s amendments, and also to make some other comments regarding this process which give me deep concern.
With regard to Ms Bresnan’s amendment to remove reference to the minister, the issue before the Assembly actually comes down to something very simple—that is, that evidence given before the committee was not true. That is the question that is before the place.
The minister is not accused of giving information to the committee which is not true. We cannot go down the path of saying that, every time a minister does not tell a committee something, even when not asked, that could be the subject of a privileges committee. That is nothing short of ludicrous, and that is essentially what Mrs Dunne is asking us to do by including the minister in the motion.
Whilst I have a view that I do not believe that we should have a privileges committee looking into this, because I believe that Mr Sullivan’s letter, whilst possibly not to Mrs Dunne’s liking, nonetheless addresses the issue, I do believe that it is dreadfully important that we do not allow the two issues to get currency.