Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4158 ..
Mr Stanhope: I withdraw "crap", but it was simply untrue.
MR MOORE: It is not the Government that has withheld these documents. Mr Stanhope's notion that that it is untrue is not the case. He can easily accuse the Government. The Government has said, "We will make these available to members if you guarantee their commercial-in-confidence, if you guarantee their confidentiality". We have had that assurance from Mr Osborne. That is what has changed, Mr Stanhope. That is the difference.
MR RUGENDYKE (6.03): Mr Speaker, unfortunately I was away last sitting period when this debate commenced. I am aware that the committee was seeking the documents named in the motion. I am aware that the general understanding was that if the motion succeeded committee members - Mr Stanhope, Mr Cornwell and Mr Osborne - would only be able to whisper behind their hands behind closed doors within the committee about the matter. I wondered what there was to hide.
I thought there might have been some agreement that the contracts could be discussed in general terms, but the Government was fighting tooth and nail to keep them hidden behind closed doors. I read the Hansard, and I noticed that the Government fought particularly hard to keep them secret. The Chief Minister fought hard to keep them hidden, to keep them within the committee, to keep them away from the public, to keep them away from the community, who deserve to know what is happening to territory money. I wondered what the Chief Minister was trying to hide, what the Chief Minister suspected might be in the contracts that would cause such embarrassment to the Government that the contracts should not be released. These documents will be released by the Auditor-General early next year anyway, so what is the fuss?
Mr Osborne has amended the motion so that the documents will be released to the committee by midday tomorrow and without the constraint of the original motion that they be kept secret within the committee. That is probably due to Mr Osborne's negotiating skills with the football teams and SOCOG. It is pleasing to see that the motion is one that I will be able to support. I look forward to seeing the content of the contracts.
MR BERRY (6.06): Mr Speaker, I will be brief. I would just like to congratulate Mr Stanhope on his persistence on this issue. If he had not been persistent with freedom of information applications and applications to the AAT in relation to the matter, the pressure would not have gone on the parties to agree to this exposure of documents previously held to be commercial-in-confidence. This is a government that thinks it is very handy to hide behind commercial-in-confidence for everything that it does. This might be the start of the end of that, the small hole in the dyke, and we will see pressure continually go on the Government to ensure that it provides documents which involve the expenditure of public moneys, given their appalling performance in the handling of public money in the Territory.
It will come to pass, I predict, that people who are dealing with government will be told, "You have to understand that every part of our dealings with you will be exposed. Have that in mind when you are dealing with us". That is the way it ought to be.