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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3073 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Mr Speaker, the bias, the bad, the wrong and the injustice in this report outweigh what is constructive. Its attack on public servants in particular is unwarranted and vindictive. The board was concerned to protect witnesses from attacks. It had no such concern for officials. Look again at the circumstances. Bureaucrats work with tight budgets and tight staffing requirements. They do not have the much increased resources that the recommendations of this report require to be available. They had none of that luxury to allow time for the detail considered necessary. What a help that would have been to them - just more staff to handle the enormously increased workload they experienced. The bureaucrats do not work in Blacktown. They have to cope with new and complex procedures. At least the report acknowledged that. They had to cope with the rush of applications following a significant change of Territory planning. They had not experienced anything like this before. They had to cope with a flood of objectors.

The report did make many acknowledgments: No evidence of patronage or improper advantage; no evidence of corruption; no "capture" by the development lobby; no evidence that any official had breached any law or administrative guidelines; all processes and procedures, and they were complex, were followed; no evidence of partiality or of the public interest being ignored; and the requirements of the Land Act were followed at all times. The work was done. The wishes of the Minister, the Government and the Assembly were carried out and, as we heard yesterday, they have won awards for their planning.

What went wrong? FOI responses showed some inconsistencies, notes of conversations were not always kept, and letters - petitions, too - were not always on time and sometimes a follow-up was not provided where it was expected. There were clerical errors. Those, and other matters of that nature, are hardly hanging offences, especially in the circumstances that applied. Many other claims must be tested before being accepted. The moving of two officers so rapidly was an unjustified panic response on the part of the Government.

Madam Deputy Speaker, it is now time for the Government and the Minister to accept the responsibility their position imposes on them. They must take that back from Mr Moore. The establishment of the inquiry was part of the deal between Mr Moore and the Liberals which brought them to government. He chose the board, certainly two of them, and this is his report. The Government had no control. I do not know whether the outcome is what he wanted. But the response must be the Government's. They must regain their proper role. If they do, if they attend to constructive elements in the report, if they provide a measure of justice to those who have been maligned, there may be some return for the $500,000 cost.

MR MOORE (4.33): Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to speak without time restraints.

Leave granted.

MR MOORE: Thank you. I hope that I will be much briefer than Mr Wood. I need to deal with one thing that I felt it was inappropriate for Mr Wood to say, and that was his personal reflection. He ought not to have done that, under standing order 55. He suggested that this was part of a deal for the Liberals to go into government.

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