Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 921 ..
Mr Kaine: It is so far at arm's length that it is out of reach altogether.
MR STANHOPE: Not only that, but I actually asked Mr Lilley at a hearing of the Urban Services Committee whether he would describe the Competitive Neutrality Complaints Unit as being at arm's length from the Chief Minister. I asked him whom it reported to and he said, "It reports to the Chief Minister through me". I said, "Mr Lilley, does it fit within your definition of being at arm's length from the Chief Minister that it reports, through you, to the Chief Minister?". He said, "No, I would not regard that as being at arm's length from the Chief Minister. I think that is perhaps drawing a bit of a longbow". Of course, if one looks at the Government's guidelines in relation to this, released to us just the other day, the formal documentation actually says that the Competitive Neutrality Complaints Unit will report through the economic - - -
Ms Carnell: That is right.
MR STANHOPE: That is right. What is right, Chief Minister: Your statement on the ABC that you deliberately made it at arm's length or that it reports directly to you?
This raises the other point we have made about the Minister's dismissal of the Sheen report: It is a report directly to the Minister; it is a report directly to the decision-maker. We are talking about a matter of principle here. We actually want an open, transparent and accountable basis for determining whether we should be dismissing whole industries, whether we should be believing that there is an overriding public benefit on the whim of public servants reporting directly to Ministers, and it is not appropriate. This Assembly decided over two years ago that it was not appropriate. (Extension of time granted)
I will wrap up, as there are others who wish to speak; but I think there are some underlying principles here. It is a pity, in a way, that Mr Osborne feels the need to move this motion. We will be supporting it and I urge everybody else to support it. The bottom line is that we already have a Competition Policy Forum that is designed to do the very things that Mr Osborne is suggesting that this council should do. The forum is there. It is just that it is not resourced and that this Government has not seen fit to refer anything to it. Because of the Government's disinclination to refer things to the forum, I have actually written to Mr Acworth and asked him to inquire into the Milk Authority. I know that he wants to and I believe that he has made approaches to the Chief Minister, asking that the Government refer to the forum matters in relation to the Milk Authority. Because the Chief Minister and the Minister have absolutely no interest in the forum, have no interest in a public consultative process, I have formally asked Mr Acworth to undertake an inquiry into the Milk Authority and its deregulation, and to take the Sheen report into account in that inquiry. I expect Mr Acworth to do that.
Mr Smyth: They cannot.
MR STANHOPE: Of course they can.
Mr Smyth: They can advise; they cannot review.
Ms Carnell: They are an advisory group.