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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1496 ..

Ms Carnell: It was their first time.

MR CORBELL: It was not Mr Osborne's first time, was it? They have an excuse, do they? The Chief Minister says that it was their first time.

Mr Berry: It was my first time as chair.

MR CORBELL: It was Mr Berry's first time as chair. Maybe you should let him off as well. What an absurd argument! The fact is that the Osborne group - Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne - were in a balance of power position in the committee and all of the recommendations in the majority report are recommendations that they accept. When the Government stands up here and slaps Mr Berry around the face, they are really slapping the Osborne group around the face as well, because the recommendations are theirs too.

I want to move on to some of the substantive issues in the report. Mr Smyth, in his comments, made the point that he felt that the estimates process did not question his officials, those from PALM particularly, in an appropriate fashion. I think Mr Smyth is perhaps being a little bit precious. We all understand that the process for estimates is a busy process and the questioning can take a significant period of time. Yes, it was unfortunate that officials from PALM had to be asked back three times before we were able to question them, but certainly the officers from PALM accepted that with good grace. They accepted as part of the estimates process that they may have to come back a few times before they actually got to their spot on the agenda. That is just the way it goes. I think it is a bit churlish of Mr Smyth to make that the subject of one of his stinging rebukes of the Estimates Committee process.

When we did get to PALM we found, as we did when we got to many other departments, some very interesting things. Many people in Canberra would be very interested to know, for instance, that in the Chief Minister's area we paid quite a bit of money - the exact figure is not in front of me but it was approximately $15,000 - to paint a plane to promote Canberra at air shows, but the plane does not fly. For heaven's sake, is that not an issue of public interest? Is that not an issue that is entirely appropriate to raise in the context of the Estimates Committee? It seems to me that the Government's rabid attack against the Estimates Committee has more to do with the rather embarrassing things that were found as a part of those inquiries than with the conduct of the committee itself. Now, $15,000 for a plane - - -

Ms Carnell: I raise a point of order, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. I am advised that the aeroplane in question now has a licence to fly in air shows.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hird): There is no point of order.

MR CORBELL: That is fantastic. I am so pleased that that plane finally flies, but the point I wanted to make is that it took the Estimates Committee process to find that out before the Chief Minister was even willing to look at the issue of whether or not the thing actually flew. I am glad that we have finally got it into the air, another achievement of Mr Berry's Estimates Committee process.

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