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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 501 ..



report. The Minister knew two weeks ago that I had viewed copies of the documents associated with the preparation of this report. The Minister knew a week ago that I had requested copies of those documents. The Minister knew that last Friday I received copies of those documents. The Minister knew what I requested from all the documents associated with this study. But he did nothing to correct the record.

Mr Speaker, yesterday we drew to the Minister's attention five separate instances of changes required of the Government and/or complaints by the consultant in relation to the so-called independent discussion paper. We drew it to the Minister's attention during question time yesterday and we asked him whether or not in light of those comments he still believed that the report was independent. I will quote to you, Mr Speaker, what the Minister said:

I believe that it is an independent study and that the process here has been followed. The process of departments dealing with consultants in this has produced an independent study, yes.

They are not my words, but Mr Smyth's words. He has not withdrawn those comments. He has said absolutely nothing about those comments. As late as yesterday, even when we drew it to his attention, he said, "I believe that it is an independent study". Mr Speaker, he is still insisting that it is an independent study. After question time yesterday he had about three hours to check his comments, to reflect on what he said and to come back to this place and say, "I was wrong. I apologise. I need to draw to the attention of the Assembly some comments I have made which it has been pointed out to me are wrong". He did no such thing. Mr Speaker, he had an extra hour first thing this morning to come down into this place, seek leave and make an explanation. He did no such thing. He has said only, "Oh, I may have said the wrong thing", when we moved the motion of censure.

It took this Opposition moving a motion of censure against the Minister for him to back down. That is not acceptable. He was given plenty of opportunities, Mr Speaker, and he took no action whatsoever. The fact that he was so ready to admit in this debate this morning that he had used the word "independent" when he should not have shows that he knew well beforehand that what he had said was misleading; but he made no attempt yesterday afternoon and he made no attempt this morning to correct the record. Instead, he thought he could try to bluff it out. He thought he could try to hold the line and hopefully we would not pursue it. Well, he was wrong. He was dead wrong. That is why we are moving the motion of censure against him this morning.

Mr Speaker, I would now like to briefly reiterate the other points that are important in this debate. The first is the comment made by Mr Osborne. Mr Osborne has said that he believes that a motion expressing grave concern is appropriate because that is the same thing as we did to Mr Moore. Therefore, the levels of responsibility must be about the same. I have to dispute Mr Osborne's perceptions, and the reason is this: Mr Moore had a motion of grave concern moved against him because of the way he was managing his portfolio, because of the Assembly's concerns about his management of the health system. We have moved a motion of censure against Mr Smyth because he has misled

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