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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3362 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

reject the residents' tender and as a result of this apparent conflict there is now a perception that the review will not be independent? Will you, in light of the conflict that now exists, agree to appoint a reviewer who can be seen to be truly independent of the department and the tender process?

MR MOORE: Mr Stanhope, in regard to your supplementary question, I have in front of me an email sent at 15.16 on 14 October, the date to which you are referring. My advice is that ACT Community Care is seeking to recruit long-term workers in anticipation that they may be asked to take on the contract for a period of two years. Point 3 is that the ACT - the words "Community Care" have been left out but from the context it is clear that this relates to ACT Community Care - has been advised that it has not been offered a contract of two years at this stage pending the review process. I have to work on the advice that is provided to me, but, if there was an agreement in the initial instance that should difficulties arise the review process should be conducted in this way, then that is how it should proceed, and that is certainly my intention now. What I have not personally done is check that there is an agreement to that effect. That is what I will be doing and I am quite happy to report back to this Assembly on that matter within the next 24 hours.

Open and Accountable Government

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, a little less than two weeks ago a man that I know you admire, a person who some say is one of your role models, in a bid to stay in office offered to do a number of things. Among those things were that he agreed to increase the powers of the Auditor-General in his State; he agreed to publish government contracts on the Internet; he agreed to set up a judicial inquiry into a threatening contractual scandal; he agreed to review the freedom of information laws; he agreed to lift a ban on public servants speaking out; and he agreed, in brief, to make himself and his Government more accountable. This man, of course, was Jeff Kennett, who displayed all of this commitment to open his Government, and in fact regrettably failed to keep his job. In the light of that, I ask the Chief Minister: In the same spirit of open and accountable government, will you agree to increase the powers of the ACT Auditor-General? Will you agree to publish government contracts on the net? Will you agree to strengthen the freedom of information laws? Will you agree to remove the gag from critical public servants? Will you agree to an independent inquiry into such matters as the failed Feel the Power deal, the failed futsal slab deal, and the failed Kinlyside land deal; and will you show the same moral fibre and accept full responsibility for your actions as Jeff Kennett has done?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am very pleased that Mr Kaine has asked me a dorothy dixer. This is very good. The ACT FOI legislation is the best in Australia. The powers of our Auditor-General are up there with the best in Australia. Jeff was coming off a low base in this area. In terms of being an open and accountable government, we are, if not the best, one of the best in Australia in terms of capacities for our public servants to speak out. Contracts, tenders and so on, to my knowledge, are already on the net. Our Auditor-General already has a full range of powers. The Auditor-General has not indicated any concerns to me. Our FOI is the best in Australia. There is no gag on public servants. I think Mr Kennett was probably trying to emulate the ACT.

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