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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1871 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, Ms Follett did say to the Assembly yesterday that she gave no authority for the report on green jobs to be paid for. Ms Follett would be well aware, because she opposed it, that the Assembly had legislated, through the Government Contractual Debts (Interest) Bill earlier last year, for the payment of government debts within 30 days or so of the tendering of the invoice for those goods or services that the Government had contracted for. Ms Follett would be well aware that government instrumentalities would be under a statutory obligation to pay those debts unless some dispute occurred or some problem had existed with the goods or services supplied. So, Mr Speaker, I think it would be fair to assume that any public servant would operate on the basis that, if they were not to pay for a particular good or service provided to the Government, they would do so either on the basis of some agreed problem or some decided problem with a particular thing that had been provided or because the Minister had instructed them not to make payment.

I went back to the Environment and Land Bureau and asked them about the situation with this particular payment. I said, "Was there a problem from your point of view with the document concerned? Was it in breach of the terms of reference given to the consultant?". The answer from the bureau was a resounding "No". In terms of what I quoted to the Assembly yesterday, they were quite satisfied that the report fell within the terms of reference given. I asked the question, "Was there any instruction from the Chief Minister, from the Minister for the Environment, or from any other Minister in the Government that the report not be paid for?". The answer was that there is no record anywhere in the department of any instruction from the Minister or the Chief Minister to that effect; nor is there any recollection by anybody in the department about instructions having been given by anybody to do with the Government for that to happen.

I think it is very important, if you happen to get caught out in these circumstances, that you try not to blame public servants who have done a good job under you. It is perfectly clear, Mr Speaker, that this report was received by the previous Government and was paid for by the previous Government. The public servants acted appropriately in paying for that report - all $21,500 worth of it. If a government decides afterwards that they do not like it, they should not blame their servants because they have inadvertently gone ahead and paid for it.

Taxi Licence Auction

MS McRAE: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr De Domenico in his capacity as Minister for Urban Services. Minister, yesterday in question time you indicated that Harold Hird and Associates Pty Ltd have advised that the auction fee for the auctioning of 15 taxi licences will be donated to a charity. Was this information part of the original tender, or were you advised subsequently? Who advised you of that decision, and when did that person do so?

MR DE DOMENICO: Mr Speaker, I was advised of that decision by the Department of Urban Services. I will check the dates. I was advised of that decision on 9 October. No, I was advised that it was $250 on 9 October. I was advised today that, in fact, the charity is called Fabric - Family Based Respite Care Inc. In fact, yesterday - - -

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