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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2010) . . Page.. 5932 ..


MR SMYTH: One standard for one, one standard for another. Mr Speaker, a large amount of the reliance of those who would oppose this motion today seems to be on interpretation of the law. It is interesting—

Ms Gallagher: Are here we going to get your learned opinion? I can’t wait.

Mr Stanhope: Brendan Smyth QC.

Ms Gallagher: Your honour.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Let us hear Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: I do thank Ms Bresnan for reminding me that public interest disclosure was instigated by Kate Carnell, a Liberal member of this place. Initially, it was opposed by the then Labor Attorney-General who did not believe that the ACT needed public interest disclosure. It is interesting that we now have a process in place. Indeed, Mrs Carnell in her tabling speech said that the reason she was doing some of this was also to ensure that snow jobs do not occur—snow jobs. We do not want cover-ups here, Mr Speaker. That is what we do not want. We actually want to get to the basis of this. As part of this, what Mrs Carnell did was to say that departments actually had to report on what they did annually in regard to public interest disclosure.

Let me read section 11(3):

The annual report shall include particulars of remedial action taken by the government agency in relation to—

(a) each public interest disclosure that was substantiated on investigation by the government agency; …

What the annual report of the department has to include is what action has been taken on things that have been substantiated by the investigation. For remedial action to be listed in the annual report, you need to know what the recommendation was. You just cannot say, “We took action.” It is interesting if you actually go back through the health department annual reports. The current 2009 report has a section C.3 on page 210. It does partly comply with the act. This might be something we need to look at in all public interest disclosures in all annual reports under this government to ascertain what remedial action was taken.

It says that in this case two referred to conduct and one was lacking in substance. It also says:

The three remaining disclosures were referred for investigation, two external and one internal. These investigations are yet to conclude.

But there is no listing of the remedial action, as required by the law, which the Chief Minister is such a strong advocate of. I am sure that he would hate to see his departments breaking the law. The whole point of the act was to get it into the open. The whole point of the act was to actually say, “These are the findings. This is what we have done. This is the remedial action that we have taken.” I refer Ms Bresnan to that part of the act, because that is what it says, Ms Bresnan.


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