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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 492 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, the case is clear. The documents have been circulated. Members have the Hansard in front of them or have access to it. The statements are completely contradictory. The Minister is at complete odds with the consultant in this matter. The consultant named in this sorry affair does not believe it was independent or at arm's length. The Minister has persisted in it. He has mouthed some weasel words that he might have been going too far in calling it an independent discussion paper; that he did not really understand what it was that he was saying; that he was wrong. But the fact remains that he has misled this place. He has misled this place grievously and he should be censured. There is no step available for the members of this place other than to censure the Minister for misleading them in this place.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (12.04): Mr Speaker, let me say at the outset that I think Mr Stanhope and the Opposition have seriously misconceived what the discussion paper was meant to do. I think the debate has become a little bit off the mark by discussing what the discussion paper was meant to do, because this is a motion about censuring the Minister for what he had said in the Assembly, not about what the discussion paper said. But it has been raised, and I think it should be addressed.

It has been suggested that the discussion paper was intended to be an independent assessment of whether we should go down the path of rural residential development in the ACT and that, because clearly the consultants, during their preparation of the paper, were asked to reflect the views that had been stated already by the Government - and, indeed, by the Assembly - on the question of rural residential, therefore this particular objective was not achieved.

Mr Speaker, let me make it absolutely clear. The report was not intended to be a clean-slate examination - a blank sheet of paper, starting point examination - of whether we should have rural residential in the ACT. That was not the purpose of the discussion paper. The discussion paper was meant to be the next step in implementing a stated government policy - a policy stated by the Government, and, incidentally, by the Legislative Assembly.

Ms Tucker: Some of them.

MR HUMPHRIES: Okay, I concede Ms Tucker's point - by a majority of the Legislative Assembly. But that majority included, I might say, every single member of the Australian Labor Party, because they indicated their support for rural residential development quite clearly during the debate before the election.

Mr Corbell: You are unbelievable, Gary.

MR HUMPHRIES: If you doubt me, Mr Corbell, I have still got Dr Steve Garth's comments on the ABC on this subject.

Mr Stanhope: Who?

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