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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2763 ..

MR SPEAKER: Please continue, Chief Minister.

MS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Attacks on public servants are never acceptable. The fascinating bit about what Mr Corbell said - - -

Mr Berry: Think back a few years.

Mr Wood: Go back in time a little bit.


MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I was very quiet. The interesting thing about Mr Corbell's statement is that it was totally at odds with Mr Berry's. Mr Corbell - - -

Mr Corbell: Two-faced Kate.

MS CARNELL: Thank you, Mr Corbell. You are going to be quiet now. Great! Mr Corbell made a comment in his statement that what this side of the house did or what Executive members did, Mr Speaker, was make our public servants answer questions when "the heat was a bit high for us". Mr Berry, in estimates, said categorically that he had the right to ask public servants questions directly and that it was not up to me as the Minister to get in the way of that approach.

Mr Berry: That is right.

MS CARNELL: Yes, he is saying that is true. Mr Speaker, it is not acceptable, and must be ruled out now, for estimates committees to ask questions directly of public servants and to stop Ministers from answering them. That is what Mr Berry did. There was none of the approach that Mr Corbell talked about. Mr Berry went down the path of saying, "No, I will ask the question directly of the public servant. You stay out of it, Minister". Mr Speaker, unless that is ruled out right now, it is unacceptable in the future for an estimates committee. That is why I am suggesting that we have to have a review of the whole estimates committee process. We have a whole report here that does not address the actual terms of reference.

Mr Berry: That is not true.

MS CARNELL: I am sorry; it is true.

Mr Berry: No, it is not true.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Most members were heard in silence. Allow the same opportunity for the Chief Minister, please.

MS CARNELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. (Extension of time granted) Mr Berry says that that is not true. I come back to the terms of reference. They are:

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