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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1458 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

the value of those contracts was $1.5 billion. Mr Speaker, that figure represents 29 per cent of the value of all contracts that were awarded and put the ACT ahead of any other State or Territory. That is right, Mr Speaker. The little old ACT, with just over 300,000 people, with traditionally a very small private sector, managed to pick up $1.5 billion worth of Commonwealth business, over 32,000 contracts. In dollar terms that was more than any other State - more than New South Wales, more than Victoria. I think that result is a real feather in the cap for the business sector here in the ACT and shows the absolutely remarkable resilience that they have shown in the face of what has been serious competition from around Australia. What it shows is that the private sector here in Canberra has real capacity.

It is worth noting that private consumption expenditure grew by more than 6 per cent in the last 12 months; that is, private sector growth here was more than 6 per cent higher than in any other State or Territory. Not only did our local businesses pick up $1.5 billion worth of Federal contracts, in dollar terms more than any other State, in number terms second only to New South Wales, but also private consumption expenditure grew faster than in any other State. I think that everyone in this place should congratulate the private sector here in Canberra for showing their resilience and the confidence and the capacity to beat companies not just from around Australia but from around the world.

Possession of Document

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, yesterday I raised with our chief law officer the case of the purloined papers. I ask the Attorney-General, through you, Mr Speaker, whether or not, with the benefit of sober reflection overnight, he has foreshortened his thinking and consideration of this matter and has now returned the stolen document to its rightful owner, the Commonwealth Government. If not, why not?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, no, I have not changed my mind particularly. I have had some preliminary advice from my department, however, on the subject. This advice has not been reduced to writing as yet so I cannot provide the advice to the Assembly as yet. But I will say what the advice to me orally has been. It is that not only are the documents not illegally in my possession, but that the documents actually attract privilege in my possession, such that if for argument's sake a warrant were attempted to be executed on my office to recover the document I would have a case in law to resist the handing over of the document. We are happy to supply Mr Kaine and others with further advice if it comes to hand.

MR KAINE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I understand that there may be some privilege in the hands of the Minister, but will the Minister, as chief law officer of the Territory, take action against the person or persons implicated in providing him with these purloined papers, and will he apologise for sure to the Commonwealth Minister for Justice for his part in this affair?

MR HUMPHRIES: No and no.

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