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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2991 ..

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (3.30): Mr Speaker, I would like to make a couple of very brief comments that I hope the Assembly will take on board. I commented earlier, when we were debating making contracts public, that I was very concerned that the contracts would end up being the subject of political toing-and-froing in this place; in other words, public servants would end up being talked about without any capacity to respond to potential criticism. I fully understand that this Assembly has determined that the contracts should be made public; but, if my worst fears come to fruition and it ends up that people in our Senior Executive Service are being unfairly treated because of the contracts being made public, I would ask that this Assembly revisit the whole issue.

MR MOORE (3.31): Mr Speaker, the Assembly can revisit any piece of legislation it likes at any time. Mr Osborne put in much effort and used all his persuasive powers in this situation, Mr Speaker, but I was finally persuaded when I was reminded that, any time something within the public service has been secret, the worst fears have always been exaggerated beyond what actually turned up. That seems to have been the case almost every time that I have pursued something. People have said, "What is going on is terrible", and we have gone through freedom of information and other methods and finally got the papers, whatever they were, and the situation has always turned out not to be as bad as everybody said it was. I think that is one of the strongest arguments for saying, "Let us just see how things are".

There is none of the talk that Mr Connolly alluded to yesterday. It is a small community. People can see what is going on. I think that that is the argument that carried the day yesterday. I think that is why it is that members generally believe that we should ensure that these are open to public scrutiny. I think, Chief Minister, that your fears will not come to fruition; that, by and large, people will see that the contracts are exactly what they are - contracts to complete certain work. That will be quite appropriate for not only members of this Assembly but also the general public.

MS TUCKER (3.33): I will speak very briefly. Obviously, we support this amendment, because it is the same as the amendment we put up. There is one point I would like to make in response to Mrs Carnell's concerns. Maybe you will have people complaining if they are not happy with what these contracts are about; but that is about being open and accountable, so I do not see why you should be so concerned about it. It should surely be an incentive to make sure that these contracts are not open to criticism. These people are basically public servants. They are not private consultants. You cannot apply the same sorts of terms and approach to these people. The public of Canberra have a right to know what these people are getting paid for and how much they are being paid. Maybe you will have people getting upset when they see $350,000 being spent on one person when you cannot afford the salaried medical practitioners, which is saving only $600,000. We are having all these other crises around us and one person, for some reason, deserves $350,000.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

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