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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3720 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

negotiations with the Commonwealth tend to take a little bit of time, particularly in an area where the Commonwealth has still to determine just what the GST impact will be at government level. They have spent lots of time, and rightly so, assessing the issues with regard to business and small business and the community generally. We are now addressing the issues with regard to government service delivery grants and other areas.

We will certainly keep you informed, Mr Wood, because you have indicated an interest in the area, and we will make sure that the arts community is aware that we certainly have no intention of causing them a significant problem in the short term.

Public Servants - Appearances before Committees

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Will the Chief Minister confirm that the reason she refused permission recently for public servants to appear before a public hearing of the Select Committee on Government Contracting and Procurement Processes was that she had advice that the Auditor-General thought it would be inappropriate? On what basis did the head of her department, Mr Gilmour, approach the Auditor-General for advice on this matter?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I think I have answered this question lots of times before, but maybe not in this place. I was advised by my department that it would be inappropriate or undesirable, shall we say, for departmental people to appear before the particular committee involved while the Auditor-General was looking at the issue of Bruce Stadium. There are two reasons for that. One is that, as members would be aware, a huge amount of public sector time is going into making sure that the Auditor-General has all of the information that he and his team want, and we should not underestimate just how much that involves. Also, Mr Speaker, the issue here was why you would have a parallel inquiry, the Auditor-General doing an inquiry and an Assembly committee doing what appeared to be a fairly similar inquiry at the same time, and how you would justify that level of inquiry.

What happens if you have two totally different outcomes? It is true that an Assembly committee will end up, as appropriate, with the outcome of the Auditor-General's inquiry, at which stage it will investigate or have a look at that document. As that particular document would normally go, I suspect, to Mr Quinlan's committee, we then could have the situation where we would have Mr Stanhope's committee looking at the same issue, the Auditor-General's inquiry, and then another Assembly committee looking at it as well. That seemed to me to be a bit illogical, and the advice from my department was that it was illogical.

I then said to the head of my department, "Well, what we need to do here is assess what the view of the Auditor-General would be on this and also the view of Mr Osborne, as that sort of matters a bit in this place, on the approach that we are taking". Mr Gilmour did both of those things and my understanding is that both of those people said they understood the position that the Government was taking in this area and did not oppose it.

Mr Corbell: Ha, ha! Oh, gee, Mr Speaker.

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