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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1066 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: It was not. In that case, Mr Speaker, I am afraid that all the laughing I might have been able to do on this matter has gone by the board. Mr Stanhope suggests in his press release of 1 April that he has uncovered some great government plot to - - -

Mr Stanhope: I did not suggest that. You are misleading again, Minister.

MR HUMPHRIES: I ask that he withdraw that statement, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, please.

Mr Stanhope: I will withdraw it, but the Minister should be careful in what he says, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: You have the opportunity at the end of question time, if you feel that you have been misrepresented, to take it up.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, what Mr Stanhope said in an interview with the ABC on this subject was that he had come across a contract with the Acting Chief Solicitor of the ACT and he had discovered in it information about a proposal to outsource legal services in the ACT. Goodness, gracious, he wanted to know what was going on; these secret deals needed to be exposed. He made much play of that in the course of interviews elsewhere. Mr Speaker, if the Government is going to keep a secret about its plans to expose legal services of the Government to contestability, the place you would not put anything would be in the annual report. But if you look at the annual report, in at least two places, it is there in black and white that the 1998-99 target - - -

Ms Carnell: It is on the basis that they can read anything.

MR HUMPHRIES: Obviously, they do not read anything, Mr Speaker. It is to develop options and appropriate work plans for the contestability of legal advice and representation services. That is on page 16 of the annual report. It is pretty rich when you get accused of keeping things secret when, in fact, they have been published for more than six months in the form of the annual report of the department.

The other extraordinary thing about this matter is the lack of awareness of how the system works at the moment. In that interview I referred to before, for example, Mr Stanhope makes reference to the possibility that the Government is starting to privatise prosecution services in the ACT. He mentions that with breathlessness and suggests that it is some sort of terrible plot. I quote:

The Attorney is wedded to a private prison. Perhaps he thinks that we could have private prosecutors as well.

For Mr Stanhope's information, we have had private prosecutors for years, probably decades, in the ACT. The Director of Public Prosecutions has never conducted all the prosecutions by himself. He has generally gone out to the private bar and obtained the assistance of private barristers for that purpose, as does the Legal Aid Commission for a number of matters that it engages in, and a whole range of other government services.

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