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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 490 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

That is what the Minister said to us yesterday. The Minister was asked three questions yesterday on this subject and repeated those claims three times. The Minister had an opportunity, until this motion was moved today, to correct the record had he felt that what he said yesterday was wrong. In his weaseling attempts to retract his answers of yesterday, what did he just say? He said, "In what I said yesterday I might have been going too far". This is now propounded by the other side as a retraction of the misleading that occurred yesterday in this place in three separate answers. The Minister has been given plenty of time to correct the record. He did not take that opportunity. He now stands up, when faced with a censure motion, and says, "Yes, I might have been going too far. Perhaps I used the word 'independent' in the wrong place". That is simply not good enough.

The people in this Assembly and the people in this community have a right to expect that when a Minister stands up and says, "We, the Government, have produced an independent discussion paper" that will be interpreted in accordance with the usual meaning of the word "independent". My colleague Mr Corbell has given the usual meaning, the Oxford Dictionary meaning, namely, "done without coercion, authority or control". What does the record show here? The record shows quite clearly from the mouth of the consultant, the independent consultant who was commissioned to produce an independent report, that this document was massaged; that this document was adjusted to reflect the position of the Government.

The Minister has made much of the fact that there were 5,000 pages of documents. The Minister, for reasons that escape me, has made much of the fact that under the FOI request put in by Mr Corbell we sought to obtain access to 1,600 of those. The sad fact for the Minister, of course, is that perhaps there were 5,000 pages but it has taken only one page to show the extent to which this Minister has misled this place and the people of Canberra. We did not need the 1,600 pages. It has taken one page to show that he is a goose, two pages to show that he has misled this place, three pages to show that he is incompetent. We did not need the other 1,597. They are clear, on the face of it.

Let us just read these documents again. This is just stark. This is from the consultant:

Foreword is good.

I wont debate the issues section any more, but it still reads as an advocacy rather than a realistic summary of the issues raised by the paper.

In other words, the consultant is saying, "You have spent $22,000 to use my name and my independence as a consultant to run the Government's line". Why do we need to run the Government's line? Let us go to some of the history of this. We need to run the Government's line because of the awful, embarrassing mess that this Government made over Hall/Kinlyside. This Government paid out $120,000 on a contract which it subsequently repealed. It probably expended $200,000 to $300,000 in government resources through the use of staff to work up the Hall/Kinlyside proposal. If we do some rough sums, Hall/Kinlyside cost us half a million dollars. It was an appalling

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