Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1383 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
I am certainly not embarrassed. I am fiercely proud of what I have achieved and I am fiercely proud of the fact that I have been prepared to look at a different system of government. I am fiercely proud of the fact that the Chief Minister, along with the other members of her Cabinet, was prepared to accept me into the Cabinet and - this is the critical part - allow me to pursue issues as a private member. Yes, I am proud of those things and I will remain proud. What is more, Mr Speaker, I am very proud of the fact that I have been able today to table my business program for 1998-99 and that it is consistent with the policies upon which I was elected. That is why it is that I put it up.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.24): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement on the assessment of legal action relating to the findings of the Burbidge inquiry.
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, members may recall that, when I tabled the report of the Burbidge inquiry into the contractual arrangements between ACTTAB and VITAB last December, I proposed that the Government, in cooperation with the ACTTAB Board, would look at the feasibility of legal action for damages from the promoters of VITAB, ACTTAB's legal advisers at the time, and any former staff of ACTTAB. I also undertook to advise members of the outcome of the necessary legal assessment.
Following tabling of the Burbidge report, a working party was formed to oversee the process. The group was made up of officials from my department, the Department of Justice and Community Safety, and the ACTTAB Board. The Auditor-General was also on the working party as an independent scrutineer. The working party was provided with legal advice as to whether there is a tenable basis for legal action and the prospects of success of any action to recover damages coming out of the findings of the Burbidge report.
On the basis of the working party's recommendations, the Government, in consultation with the ACTTAB Board, has accepted the advice that legal action not be taken because of the very poor prospects of success of that action, balanced against the very large cost of the litigation. Unsuccessful legal action would require the Territory to bear its own costs and to meet the costs of the defendants.
When I tabled the report of the Burbidge inquiry I indicated that we should not step unthinkingly into litigation and I flagged some of the reasons for this. One of the key issues is the fundamental difference between the fact-finding role of a board of inquiry and the requirement in civil litigation for the party seeking recovery of damages to discharge an onus of proof in accordance with rules of evidence. The Burbidge inquiry had recourse to coercive powers and the advantage of being able to draw conclusions from material that would not be strictly admissible in ordinary court proceedings.