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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2279 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

In conclusion, the only reason why Mr Berry raised this issue, or for that matter Mr Stanhope, is that they could not find anything wrong with the unemployment figures, and Mr Berry could not come at saying, "Congratulations, Kate; congratulations, Liberal Government, because you have done something that I could not do".

Proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, through you, I address a question to the Attorney-General and defacto Chief Minister, Mr Humphries. I draw attention to the fact that about two weeks ago I indicated that I was going to bring on legislation to establish an independent commission against corruption. The immediate knee-jerk reaction to that from both the Attorney-General and the Chief Minister was to be expected. The Chief Minister said, "We don't have any corruption that I know about". There was the qualification "that I know about". That was reported in the Canberra Times on 12 August. Mr Humphries, on Capital 10 on 11 August, asked the rhetorical question, "Where in the last 10 years has there been any corruption?", and he challenged me to produce evidence of it. Well, Mr Speaker, in the last few days we have seen comments from both the Auditors-General of New South Wales and Victoria about the possibility of a royal commission in Victoria on the basis of the nature of the government that they have, which, incidentally, is very similar to the nature of the government that we have. Also, the independent commissioner in New South Wales was reported in the Sydney media in the last couple of days as having said that he has had inquiries from people in the ACT asking him to look into allegations of corruption in the ACT, which, of course, he does not have the power to do. In light of those facts, Mr Humphries, instead of having you challenge me to produce evidence, I would like to ask you, as Attorney-General, given your certainty in this matter and the certainty of the Chief Minister, whether you will give an unconditional guarantee in writing that there is no corruption in the ACT.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, let me answer the last part of that question first. Of course I cannot give such a guarantee because, to the best of my knowledge and the best knowledge of others who have spoken about this, there is no corruption, but one would be a fool to rule out that possibility. However, it is a very far cry from saying that we cannot rule it out to saying that because we cannot rule it out there must be a case for a commission to investigate such corruption in the ACT.

I want to correct Mr Kaine on one matter. He said there was a knee-jerk reaction when his proposal came out. The Government did not rule out his legislation. It said it would consider what he had to say, but pointed out the problems as we saw them at this time. In fact, we remain open-minded about this proposal. No government should be complacent about the question of corruption. No government should send a signal that it is prepared to let these things slide because corruption is not a high priority on its agenda. As far as I am concerned, any suggestion of corruption is a matter of the utmost seriousness and should be dealt with at the highest possible level of response.

The questions that are given rise to by Mr Kaine's legislation are, first of all: What is the inadequacy of present procedures to deal with corruption in the ACT? I have to disagree with many things he said about the inability of present organisations to deal with corruption. There are, in fact, extensive provisions to deal with corruption in the

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