Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3229 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
the understanding of public servants appearing before Assembly committees. It is a very important question and a very important issue, and it deserves some considered and rigorous debate and response.
The Estimates Committee sought to raise concerns about some evidence given. There is no doubt that there is some very real and grave concern within this place about evidence given in relation to Hall/Kinlyside and the fact that the Under Treasurer had in his hand, in terms of the first estimates round, three leases and it was three or four months later that he recanted and said that, on reflection, he was wrong; that he did not have three leases at all. It is a worry that one of the documents that he claimed to have actually mistaken for a lease was a so-called power of attorney, which was a rough bit of paper with a few lines of writing on it, the size of a single sheet of A5 paper. The Under Treasurer had confused it with the lease of a block, on the basis of which the Government entered into an exclusive arrangement with a land developer. How did the Under Treasurer make that sort of mistake?
Ms Carnell: That is not true.
MR STANHOPE: It is. That is precisely what the Under Treasurer has told us. When Mr Corbell asked him whether he was absolutely certain that he had been handed three leases by Mr Whitcombe, he said that, yes, he was positive.
Ms Carnell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: You have ruled on getting stuck into public servants in this place.
MR SPEAKER: Yes.
MR STANHOPE: I am simply reporting on recommendation 6, which the Government has chosen basically not to endorse. They are the facts of the matter. It was on the basis of those facts that the committee recommended that members of the Public Service be reminded of their responsibilities. We have a situation where the Under Treasurer, at estimates in July, said that he had taken possession of three separate sets of lease documents. In later estimates, he actually said that, no, that was not the case. He recanted. He withdrew his evidence. But he did not actually do it between-time. He waited for four months. He came back to the secondary set of estimates and said, "No; I was mistaken".
He was asked, "Well, what were the three sets of documents you took delivery of?". I am still not sure that he has identified the third set, but he identified the second set as, in fact, the power of attorney. I have seen it. It is a single A5 sheet of paper, a scrappy little sheet of paper. How anybody could possibly mistake that for a lease over a block of land, in relation to which the Government entered into a major contract, is just beyond me.