Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2755 ..
MR CORBELL (11.03): Mr Speaker, my comments today on the Estimates Committee report are specifically to do with recommendation 6, which is the recommendation that has attracted the most interest in the press and from the government side of this place. That recommendation reads:
... that the Government remind departmental officers of the need for care and attention to detail in respect of evidence given to committees of the Assembly and remind officers of the gravity of such discrepancies.
Mr Speaker, I want to say at the outset that the overwhelming majority of public servants who assist Assembly committees, including the Estimates Committee, with their deliberations are professional, straightforward and helpful. I want to put that very clearly on the record. The overwhelming majority of public servants behave in an entirely appropriate and professional manner. I find it outrageous, Mr Speaker, that the Government will come in here and, in an attempt to legitimise its political argument, drag into the debate officers of the ACT government service to suit their political ends. Mr Speaker, that is exactly what they have done in this debate over the past 24 hours, since this report was authorised for publication yesterday afternoon.
Mr Speaker, let me put it very plainly: During the hearings of the Estimates Committee, we took evidence on a number of controversial issues. One of them was in relation to the Hall/Kinlyside development, the failed Hall/Kinlyside development, and the evidence that had previously been given by both Ministers and senior officers of the Office of Financial Management. It became apparent during those hearings that the evidence that had previously been provided by a public servant was incorrect; it was wrong. That information was corrected only when they were caught out. It was corrected only when they were caught out.
Perhaps, Mr Speaker, it would be useful to go into this discussion in a little more detail to highlight the seriousness of the issue that the Estimates Committee is attempting to raise. Initially, Mr Speaker, when the issue of Hall/Kinlyside was raised we received very clear and unambiguous evidence from a Public Service official about what the Government saw which persuaded it to enter into the Hall/Kinlyside arrangement. The very clear and unambiguous evidence we were given was that the Government saw three lease documents and, because the Government saw three lease documents, that was the justification, along with the power of attorney from the relevant landowners, to enter into the Hall/Kinlyside development.
I would just like to put on the record again what was said at that time. It is a very short interchange, but I will read it out because it is very useful and it makes the point, I believe. I asked the following question of Mr Neil Morgan from the Office of Financial Management on 21 July this year:
Mr Morgan, just on that, you have indicated that the proponent provided evidence of the leases, of the titles, what was that?