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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 484 ..



provide for a rural residential development has further heightened the perception that the ACT has departed from its earlier position. That perception has remained even though that agreement has now been terminated.

That is a fairly critical comment by the consultant on the Government's policy approach. It is critical of the Government's handling of this policy. It is critical of the Government's development of this policy. It was removed. It was not removed by the consultant. It was removed because the ACT Government decided that it was an embarrassing statement that could not be seen in the final document as it was released. Is that independent? Is that independent of government, separate from the influence of others? The answer must be no. Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table that document.

Leave granted.

MR CORBELL: I thank members. This, as I said at the beginning, is a black-and-white case. I have just presented for members five separate instances of evidence where quite clearly the consultant objected to changes being made to his study. The Government removed sections of the study which were embarrassing to it. Is that independent? If the Minister had stood up in this place and said, "This is the Government's discussion paper" then we would not have a case, nor would we pursue the matter, because we would understand that what was being presented was the Government's own discussion paper presenting its policy position. But the Minister did not do that. The Minister stood up in this place and said, "This is an independent study, separate from government, prepared by independent experts". What I have tabled this morning quite clearly demonstrates that that was not the case at all. That is why this Minister has misled this Assembly, Mr Speaker.

There are other important issues that members must consider when they consider this censure motion. The Minister released this discussion paper and then put it out for consultation. The Minister presented it to the community as independent, and he sought their advice on that basis. He said, "We will respond to the consultation, the objections and other comments raised as part of the consultation process". Again, that would be a legitimate process but only if it was a case of independently putting their view, the community responding to that view and government responding to the community's opinions and the independent paper.

But what this Government did and what this Minister did was release a paper which the Minister knew was not independent and had been changed to suit the Government's position. He sought consultation on the basis of what the Government's position was, as presented in that paper, and then had the hide to stand up and say, "Now we are going to respond to the comments on our own discussion paper". That is not an acceptable process. It is not an acceptable process for this Assembly and it is a misleading of this Assembly and the Canberra community.

The Minister may stand up shortly and say, "I had no knowledge of this". The Minister may stand up and say, "I was not aware that this process took place; that these changes were requested". First of all, we drew these issues to his attention yesterday. Was he in

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