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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1384 ..

MR SMYTH: There are no secrets. What you are doing here is saying that anybody that signs a contract with the ACT Government had better be aware that the Assembly may demand that that document be tabled and made public. In many contracts, in many documents, businesses reveal the inner workings of their business and their ability to deliver on contracts. If you are willing to expose the inner workings of businesses, both large and small, for their competitors to see what they did to win a contract, how better their bid was, what incentives they put in their bid, you are saying, "Don't come to Canberra to do business because the Labor Party in the ACT Assembly will expose your contract for all your competitors to see". What you are doing is saying that you do not want Canberra to do business. What you are doing by this very action is saying that you do not believe in private sector development of the ACT. It is a terrible thing that you are doing here. Today the Deputy Chief Minister revealed that Labor did a similar thing in the early 1990s. Clearly, what has happened is acceptable under financial management Acts when they do it, but we are not allowed to do it. It was good for them; we are not allowed to do it. They will do it and get away with it but we cannot.

There is no need to say that, Mr Speaker. What we have here is, quite clearly, what was considered to be acceptable practice then and is acceptable practice now. What we should not have is this trawl - and that is all it is; it is just a fishing expedition - through these documents. We talk often in this place of process and letting process run. This is an opportunity for them to put their money where their mouths are. When they are happy with the process, they will let it run. When for some odd reason they are not happy, when it does not suit their political purpose, they refuse to accept it. They do that time and again with the Auditor-General. When the Auditor-General brings out a report that condemns the Government, they reckon it is the best thing since sliced bread. When the Auditor-General says that we got it right, they refuse to acknowledge or say that it is flawed. It is about time that you applied some standards to this matter.

What we need in the Assembly, what we need in building up a better Canberra and what we need in creating more jobs is the certainty that when you sign a contract with the Government that has a clause that says that the contract will not be disclosed for whatever reason both parties will honour that agreement. What the Assembly is saying is that it will not. What the Opposition is saying is that it does not believe that the Government should honour its agreements. What the Assembly is doing through the Labor Party, through this motion, through Mr Stanhope, is attacking commercial confidence, attacking the reputation of the ACT across Australia in a business sense. We will be a laughing-stock, we will be a joke, when, for instance, the Raiders - - -

Mr Stanhope: That is the view of some already, mate.

MR SMYTH: The quote in the Canberra Times this morning was "No hope", was it not? I wonder who is the joke here. Do the Raiders want the Brumbies to know what they negotiated with the Government? Of course they do not. Do the Cosmos know what deal the others put to the Government? Why should they? These are commercial advantages that all these companies seek and they should rightly seek them because it is appropriate that the private business dealings of a company as contained in commercial-in-confidence contracts be kept commercial-in-confidence. This motion is a joke, Mr Speaker; it is just a trawl. The Assembly should vote against it.

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