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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2771 ..

Mr Wood: I remember Mrs Carnell doing something to Helen Szuty in an estimates report. Do you remember that?

MR HUMPHRIES: Members opposite are obviously concerned about consistency, Mr Speaker. I would like to raise the matter of consistency as well. We have had criticism today from Mr Corbell and Mr Berry about the idea of the Government stopping members of the Estimates Committee from examining public servants who appeared before it. Mr Berry needs to cast his mind back to the time when he was a Minister - quite some years ago now - and appeared before estimates committees and had questions posed directly to public servants who were sitting alongside him. Mr Berry may recall that he also refused to allow members of the committee to ask questions directly of public servants.

I can recall a number of occasions asking public servants questions and Mr Berry intervening, saying, "If I see fit, I will answer the question. I will not be allowing a public servant to answer a question if I do not think that is appropriate". Mr Corbell would be forgiven for not knowing about that because he was not around at the time Mr Berry was a Minister, but Mr Berry certainly knows about it and should have been aware of it before he told this house how heinous it was that there should ever be a case of Ministers refusing to let the members of the Estimates Committee ask those questions.

Mr Berry: Who said that? I never said that.

MR HUMPHRIES: I think you did, Mr Berry.

Mr Berry: When did I say that? You might have misled the Assembly.

MR HUMPHRIES: I understand that the quote is on its way down at the moment. If it comes down in time, I will read it to the Assembly and you can see where you made reference to your view that you, as a Minister, are entitled to screen questions and have them asked of yourself rather than of public servants. So, again we see the usual tactic. What is okay for the Opposition when it is the Labor Party is fine, but when it is the other side it is another set of rules altogether. That is the kind of game we have seen played.

To respond to Mr Kaine's comment, the Chief Minister has not suggested that the Executive would make any decisions about the structure of estimates committees. Mr Speaker, she never suggested that she would; nor has she said anything in her remarks today which would, I think, lead members to any other belief. Mr Speaker, I think we need to be very clear about what sorts of things are being said in this place. They are not what is being represented in some cases.

I have not read it yet, but my attention has been drawn to the Hansard of the Estimates Committee of 25 September 1992 where - - -

Mr Berry: So, I did not say it in this house.

MR HUMPHRIES: You said it in public.

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