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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3776 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

committees for use in their deliberations without exposing the Government to breach of contract or doing the wrong thing with regard to commercial-in-confidence information provided by private companies or individuals.

We will be happy to support this approach on the basis of what I have already said. For Mr Humphries' interest, we are happy to support this approach on the basis that the committee uses the information but does not publish it, publish extracts from it or use commercial-in-confidence information in a public manner that would endanger the relationship that the Government has with the other parties to these contracts or the contractual obligations it has to those parties.

We are happy to do this because we believe this information should be available to the Assembly, and always have, as I have said before in this place and in other places. It will also mean that members of the committee will have accurate information. We have heard all sorts of unbelievable figures and unusual statements about these contracts which simply are not right. It will be great to have accurate information in front of the Assembly committee that is looking at this important issue. It certainly is in the interests of openness and appropriate behaviour.

I thank Mr Osborne for bringing forward the motion. I agree with him that this has gone on for too long. It is appropriate that both sides of this debate compromise. Certainly the Government is willing to do so.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.57): As Mr Osborne indicated, he and I did have a discussion about this motion. As the Assembly knows, the Opposition and the Assembly have previously sought copies of these documents and asked for them to be tabled. In fact, I am pursuing an application before the AAT in relation to the Government's refusal to release these documents under the Freedom of Information Act. We had a second directions hearing yesterday at which the Raiders, the Brumbies and the Cosmos were invited to be joined. I understand that the Raiders, the Cosmos and the Brumbies did attend yesterday with their legal advisers for that purpose.

Mr Humphries: They would love that.

MR STANHOPE: Yes, the would. The Government also attended with its legal adviser, as did I with my legal adviser. That is the position we have reached. There is an application before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal seeking release of these documents pursuant to refusal by the Government to release them. Five parties are now represented in that matter.

When Mr Osborne approached me today, I was quite amenable to seeking to deal with the release of these documents in this way on the understanding which Mr Osborne and I had that the committee could not be gagged as to their content. I understand from Mr Osborne that his understanding of his discussions with Mr Humphries is that we would agree not to publish the documents. In other words, we would not photocopy and release the documents for publication but there would be no attempt to constrain the committee or me, as its presiding officer or chair, from discussing the content of the documents.

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