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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 31 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (2.30): I join in comments made by others in this chamber that this report is a very sad report and a far cry from what I have come to expect in my time in this place as the standard of reports from Assembly committees. I ask members to look at the report itself, to read just a few of the paragraphs of this report, to see that it is tangibly different from other sorts of reports. From almost the first page of this report it takes a very directly partisan and political position on the issues which were before that committee. We at least go through the pretence, if I might give it that derogatory term, of considering the points of views of others that come before a committee, views with which perhaps members of the committee have already had some difference of view, and we sit down in the committee context and we examine those views as objectively as we can, given the starting positions that we bring to such exercises.

That is not even attempted in the case of this report. From page 1 it sweeps aside any information, any evidence, which it considers to be unhelpful in reaching a conclusion which, it is tempting to believe, was predetermined before the very first day this committee ever sat. The evidence of witnesses for the Government was downplayed or dismissed, often with extremely spurious arguments and devices. Almost everything the Australia Institute put before the committee has been adopted uncritically. In my experience, no one submission, particularly in such detail, to an Assembly committee ever is the sole repository of wisdom. There is always some good and some bad in every submission. We see none of that in this report. It is a partisan report of a kind which, frankly - I know that you expect us to say this, but I have to say it to you - shocks me in its inability to come to terms with the issues in the subtle way in which we have expected committees of this Assembly to approach issues. The facts are used only insofar as they support the predetermined conclusions; others are simply ignored. I will come to some of those facts in a minute to illustrate my point.

Mr Speaker, let me run through some of the things which are very serious about this report. Some of the things can be explained as the product of the great speed with which this report was prepared. Others, unfortunately, are not so easily explained. First of all, great store was placed, in the report itself and subsequently in the media, in fact before this report was released - that is a matter which has been referred to already today - by the fact that there was apparently some difference of view, indeed some criticism, by the Australian Government Actuary of the ACT Government's figures with respect to the calculation of the superannuation burden over the next 20 or so years. We have all read the reports late last week in the media about how seriously the Chief Minister -a highly personalised comment - had exaggerated the extent of the superannuation burden.

Ms Carnell: Very personal.

MR HUMPHRIES: It was very personal indeed. Such was the comment, apparently, that the Actuary saw fit to actually write to the Under Treasurer and clarify some of the comments that had been made. I quote from that letter of 29 January, which was clearly an attempt to hose down some of the exaggerated comments being made in the media, before the committee report was presented, about this so-called exaggeration.

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