Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3726 ..
MS McRAE: My supplementary question is: Mrs Carnell, will you now table the Auditor-General's management letters to all agencies in relation to the 1995-96 financial accounts?
MRS CARNELL: Obviously, I do not have them with me, but anything that is available those opposite are more than welcome to have. I would have assumed, Mr Speaker, that as chair of the Estimates Committee Ms McRae would have had an opportunity to ask for those already. Certainly, everything that is available is on the table. I think it is very important, though, to realise that the Chief Minister's Department did not have their accounts qualified. If the Auditor-General had severe problems with the accounts of the Chief Minister's Department, then surely he would have qualified them.
MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, through you, I direct a question to Mr Humphries, the Attorney-General. Minister, I recall that Ms Follett was quoted in the media, I think back in June, as saying that your failure to secure the future of the ACT's after-hours duty solicitor scheme was disgraceful. Minister, did you fail to secure the future of the ACT after-hours duty solicitor, and was Ms Follett correct in accusing you of disgraceful conduct?
MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mr Kaine for his question. He quite correctly recalls the press release that Ms Follett issued, headed "Threat to Duty Solicitor Service `Disgraceful' - Follett", in which she suggested that the scheme was under threat and was going to go down the gurgler because of the Government's handling of the matter. I do not mind those sorts of claims being made in respect of me; that is fine. What I do resent, though, is the damage that it does to individuals who might be thinking of using the service. Every time a service is attacked and it is claimed falsely that a service is about to disappear or go down the gurgler - the birthing centre, for example - people who are thinking of using it start to mentally make new arrangements about doing something different or make the assumption that these services are not available.
Ms Follett: The police had already stopped referring people to it.
MR HUMPHRIES: The service was never under threat, Ms Follett.
Ms Follett: The police had stopped referring people to it. They thought it had stopped.
MR HUMPHRIES: That is not my fault. I did not at any stage stop the service. The service never discontinued. Not for one night did it discontinue. If someone told you it had discontinued, then you should have told them, "I will find out whether it is discontinued and I will do something about it", not issue a press release confirming information which in fact is not true. If people start rumours, then members in this Assembly should not be accelerating them by making comments that they should have known were not true.