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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2465 ..

University of Canberra - Bar

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Humphries. Minister, do you accept the comments of the University of Canberra's vice-chancellor, Don Aitkin, reported in this morning's Canberra Times, that your letter to him about supposed plans to operate a 24-hour university bar was, in his words, "extremely peremptory" and "outrageous" and that your letter suggested that "the university is a minor part of the ACT administrative machinery" rather than "an autonomous higher-education institution"? Do you accept those comments? Secondly, do you now regret the way you approached this matter?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am not going to comment in detail on Professor Aitkin's letter, but I certainly do regret having suggested to him that the university bar or bars intended to trade on a 24-hour basis. That information, apparently, was quite unreliable. It just goes to show, Mr Speaker, that you cannot rely on everything that you get asked in question time in this place. Mr Speaker, I think with hindsight that I would agree that the letter I wrote to Professor Aitkin was inappropriate. I have already written back to him - yesterday, in fact - to indicate that. When I have a chance, I will speak to him and convey that information.

MR WOOD: I have a supplementary question. Given some of your remarks in an earlier debate today, will you now re-examine your own style of doing things and perhaps change this undesirable approach?

MR SPEAKER: That could almost come under Executive policy. I would have to rule it out of order, then.

MR HUMPHRIES: I think he has asked me to announce government policy, Mr Speaker. I am not prepared to do that.


MR BERRY: My question is to the Acting Chief Minister. On Monday the Acting Chief Minister issued a media release stating the preferred position of the Government with regard to the ACT's superannuation liability. Can he now say, firstly, whether he has decided to totally ignore the options and recommendations of consultants Towers Perrin by presenting only two alternatives to the sale of ACTEW and, secondly, whether the information in his media release means that the Government will make an effort to address the unfunded liability only if the Assembly agrees to sell ACTEW?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, as far as the options in Towers Perrin are concerned, the Government has clearly identified what it believes is the most effective way of dealing with the options. Obviously, we have considered all the options which have been placed before the Government in that document and other documents, and we will continue to assess ways of dealing with this issue, but we have identified what we believe is an effective way of doing so. In fact, I think I heard Mr Smyth in the debate this morning point out that, since succeeding generations of Canberrans have both built up the

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