Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2010) . . Page.. 2121 ..
made at various times by Mr Sullivan, who was the subject of this inquiry. It is clear from the clear words in the evidence given by Mr Sullivan and it is clear from the analysis of that given by Mr Coe that the evidence given at the estimates committee 2009-10 in relation to the Murrumbidgee to Googong transfer was wrong and that, when that evidence was given, it was known to be wrong by the person who gave it. All of the committee members realised that and acknowledged that in their findings. I think what Mr Coe is dissenting from is that there was no deliberate intention to mislead the committee and therefore no contempt.
Mr Sullivan, as the chief executive officer of a government-owned corporation, does have commercial responsibilities. And he has acknowledged that he has commercial responsibilities and he has acknowledged that he should have used, I think the words were, less direct language in dealing with these matters.
I hope that this process is a salutary one for not just those involved but everyone who gives evidence to committees or in any way comes before this Assembly and speaks their mind or speaks about the facts. It is a salutary lesson that there are ways of doing it and there are ways of not doing it.
When it first came to my attention that the information provided to the estimates committee for the last financial year, the 2009-10 estimates committee, was wrong—and that came to my attention by the analysis of my staff principally of the board papers that became available to us under the Freedom of Information Act—my first response was: if that was the case and for whatever reason Mr Sullivan did not want that information to be out in the public, there were ways of doing it and the way that he did it was the wrong way. What he needed to do was to say to the chairman: “There is more information that I can give but at the moment it is being treated as commercial-in-confidence. I can come back to you at a later stage when I am more able to give you more up-to-date information.” Or he could have said, “I am able to give you that evidence in camera,” and the committee could have decided whether or not they wanted to go in camera. But none of those things happened.
It was interesting to note that, when this matter arose in November last year and Mr Sullivan was quizzed about this on radio, he actually admitted that he had knowingly given the wrong information to the committee. In an interview on ABC radio on 19 February, Mr Sullivan said:
I agreed with the last publicly available number … even though I knew it had been updated.
So Mr Sullivan has told this committee and told this Assembly on various occasions that he should have used more direct language but he also told the people of Canberra that he did not provide accurate information to this estimates committee and that, when he provided information, he knew it was out of date. There are many ways that Mr Sullivan, as a professional senior officer of long experience—and he talked about his long experience on a number of occasions—could have dealt with this. He did not deal with it appropriately.
This committee points to the fact that it has not been dealt with appropriately. It has brought out elaborated dissenting and additional comments by Mr Coe, and I think