Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3274 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
One thing we have to understand in this chamber is that the ABN AMRO report, as I understand it - and I am happy to be corrected - was commissioned by the Government. The Australia Institute report was commissioned by the Trades and Labour Council. It was not commissioned by the Opposition. We have had a hands-off approach to this report.
Mr Corbell: We did not get it until after the crossbenchers did.
MR HARGREAVES: As my colleague Mr Corbell quite rightly points out, we did not get the Australia Institute report until after the crossbenchers, indeed. I did not see it myself until during question time.
Mr Kaine: I got it before you did, John.
MR HARGREAVES: Mr Kaine indeed got it before I did. The two documents have figures at odds with each other. I must admit to having a little suspicion about the timing of the Auditor-General's report. I do not think I could have ever commissioned something with such impeccable timing, particularly when there are passages in it which can be taken out and used selectively. When the good committee members sit down and consider the superannuation option, they are going to have three smelly reports. We would argue that the Australia Institute report is the correct one. The Government would argue the ABN AMRO is the correct one. The Auditor-General's report is the smelliest one I have seen come out of an Auditor-General for many a long time.
The purpose of having a committee instead of just having all of the reports sitting side by side on people's tables is that it affords us the opportunity to get additional witnesses in or even the authors of those reports and have them explain in a little bit more depth what on earth they are talking about. Mr Speaker, as I understand it, 50 per cent of our committee are qualified accountants and can wade their way through this information.
What concerns me about what this Government is doing is the time members of the committee will have to consider the information that is given to them. We are hoping of course that the witnesses will be available. Even expert witnesses are entitled to a break over the Christmas period. I am concerned that we are imposing upon a great number of other people the constraints that the Government would impose upon people like Mr Rugendyke and me.
Mr Speaker, I am also concerned that the committee's report will be tabled on the same day that the debate will be called on. One would hope that the committee would have made up its mind along the way. However, that is not a guarantee. We are talking about substantial information, really significant information. We are asking the committee to come in here and then instantly engage in debate on the matter. I think that is a tad unfair.