Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3639 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
processes for all contracts and the use of consultants; stringent application of the single select tender method in accordance with ACT government purchasing policies; improved checklists and procedures for advertising tenders; the requirement for proper risk assessment on construction projects; better internal procedures to strengthen the processes of tender evaluation and preferred tender requirements; procedures to inform prospective tenderers of any special conditions prior to the actual tender process; and revised procedures governing so-called letters of acceptance.
Mr Speaker, the coroner has used the term "systemic failure". Boy, have those opposite used it a lot! It is a phrase that has been heavily quoted in the media and by the Labor Party during this debate. It has been argued, for example, that the relationship between the Chief Minister's Department, Urban Services, WorkCover and Totalcare may be part of this failure. It has been found, too, that some officials from the Chief Minister's Department and the old Department of Business, the Arts, Sport and Tourism unnecessarily involved themselves in the project.
Let us be clear, Mr Speaker: On the question of this involvement, the coroner found quite clearly that, to the extent that this happened, it did not contribute in any way to the death of Katie Bender. I will say that again, Mr Speaker. On the question of this involvement - what those opposite have suggested is the reason that I should be sacked and all the rest of it - the coroner found quite clearly, using his words, that, to the extent to which this actually happened, it did not contribute in any way to the death of Katie Bender. Indeed, the coroner explicitly rejected the suggestion that there had been a so-called secret loop that had controlled the implosion.
This is an important point: This system or interrelationship between departments within the structure of the Public Service is not new. In fact, it was originally put in place by the Labor Party in 1989. I say again: We did not corporatise Totalcare; those opposite did. It was corporatised years before the implosion took place. The procedures used by the contract section of Urban Services were not put in place by us; they were put in place by Labor. In fact, the key Totalcare, WorkCover and Urban Services officers discussed by the coroner were appointed by the previous Labor Government.
All but one of the officials within the Chief Minister's Department and the Department of Business, the Arts, Sport and Tourism held senior positions, as I have already said, under Labor. As I said before, too, one of them actually worked in a ministerial office. You have to get rid of all of those arguments because they are simply not true. Mr Speaker, any suggestion that somehow there was a massive purge of the ranks of the Public Service with hand-picked political stooges being installed in every agency, which seemed to be what people were saying this morning, is simply rubbish. The people involved were appointed by Labor. The processes in place were processes that were put in place by Labor. If anything, if there is criticism of this Government, it should be that we did not change enough of the systems, not that we changed too many.
The issue of who was actually responsible is one that has been spoken about a lot. This really shows that you are damned if you do and you are damned if you do not in this place. I have made it clear right from the beginning that the buck does stop with me. I am Chief Minister. I do not doubt that. But ministerial responsibility does not mean