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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2010) . . Page.. 2119 ..

The other point I did want to raise, which again is raised in the report, was that the evidence and what was being considered by the committee did, I think, indicate that the issues, to a significant extent, did arise from a failure to clarify matters in dispute in earlier proceedings and, throughout this whole process and through what we are examining here, did show that did largely lead to the situation which arose and, if clarity had been sought sooner or if that had been done in previous hearings, we may not have got to the stage that we did. In relation to that, too, while the processes of referring the matter to a privileges committee were correctly followed, it is possibly important that these issues were not resolved through the ordinary process of the public accounts committee. And I would like to read out the final point which is made in the report:

This committee does not suggest that standing committees should be charged with conducting preliminary inquiries into possible breaches of privilege or contempt. However, given that raising an issue of breach of privilege or contempt is a serious matter, potentially reflecting adversely on the reputation of the persons involved, it is desirable that facts in dispute are clearly established through ordinary committee processes before any further action is taken.

I think that is important to keep at heart here. I think this was a complicated matter and I think, if matters had been cleared up, we may not have got to this point. But we did have to look at the technical nature of what was discussed and exactly what was asked and what was then put forward by the witness. In relation to that, we had to come out with the findings we did. I commend this report to the Assembly.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (11.47): Firstly, let me start by thanking the other members of the committee, Ms Bresnan and Mr Barr, for their participation, and also the committee secretariat for their fine work in the deliberations. Whilst I do agree with some of the things that Ms Bresnan said, I do disagree with a number of them, in particular the issue which I dissented from in the report. I do not intend to speak for very long, because I do believe the dissenting and additional comments are quite comprehensive and therefore do not warrant a lengthy speech from me now.

But it is worth noting that I did conclude that Mr Sullivan deliberately withheld contemporary information from the Select Committee on Estimates 2009-2010, albeit for good reasons, and failed at all times to correct the record, acknowledging only that he should have used less direct language. I do not know what part of those two comments Mr Barr or Ms Bresnan disagree with, because I think it is quite clear, based on the time line and based on the facts, that is indeed what did actually happen. We can talk about the punishment till the cows come home but at the end of the day the facts of this situation, I think, are quite clear and I do believe that, as I said, he deliberately withheld contemporary information, albeit for good reasons, and failed at times to correct the record.

The dissenting and additional comments state:

3.7 … the ACTEW Corporation Board also authorised and delegated Mr Sullivan to approve expenditure for implementation of the project up to the total project budget of $149.8m …

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