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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2355 ..

MR STANHOPE: They did it and nothing happened.

Mr Moore: They put up evidence.

MR STANHOPE: But nothing happened, and we endured decades of the most appalling corruption and misuse of power. So from time to time it does not hurt to consider the issue; to look and see how we respond to these issues; to look and see how our laws have developed and are being administered, and how governments are operating.

Just in the context of how governments operate, operations do change. It is more difficult these days to utilise the Freedom of Information Act to obtain information about government activities. We have such a situation in this place at this moment. This Assembly asked the Government to table a range of documents in relation to Bruce Stadium and the Government flatly refused to do it. There is a motion of this house, I think dated last May, asking this Government to table a range of documents dealing with some contractual aspects at Bruce Stadium. The Government has said, "You cannot have them". The Government says, "They are commercial-in-confidence; you cannot get them". The Government responds to an FOI request by saying, "These documents are covered by a whole range of exemptions. You are not entitled to see the original tenders for the project management of Bruce Stadium". In an environment where the Government simply refuses to respond to a motion of the parliament that it table documents and refuses an FOI request to reveal documents, one is entitled to ask, "Are our processes adequate to scrutinise the activities of government?".

I simply use that as a very pertinent and recent example. Are our processes adequate to scrutinise all the activities of government? Obviously they are not when the parliament passes a motion requesting the Government to table documents and the Government just says, "No, you can't have them. You, the parliament, are to be denied access to these documents". That is what this Government has done. Then you stand up here today and say, "Look, all of our processes are adequate. We can be scrutinised. Just trust us. There is no corruption; just trust us".

Yes, that is what this Government is saying, and in that environment it is appropriate that we investigate how we do deal with these issues; that we consider whether all of our laws are appropriate; whether the organisations we depend on, such as the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman and the Australian Federal Police, are appropriately resourced; whether or not their powers are adequate, and whether or not there are some adjustments that we can make. I am quite happy about that and I look forward to that debate.

As I said, I am not sure that Mr Kaine's approach is appropriate, and I am not at all sure that the Labor Party will be supporting it. However, I am more than happy to look at his exposure draft. It is an exposure draft, and to simply make some minor criticisms of the style of it and about whether or not it has a few typos in it is really to miss the point completely. It makes one wonder whether the Government is prepared to look at the issue seriously at all. To make those sorts of nitpicking and puerile points about the

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