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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 127 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The Chief Minister may recall that I questioned the personnel appointed to assist the inquiry. Specifically, I raised concerns regarding the appointment of Mr John Wynants, who, until this appointment, had responsibility for the management of housing policy, clearly an issue most relevant to the subject of the inquiry. I made the point that there could reasonably be a perception of bias and that those members of the community concerned with the effectiveness of this inquiry may wonder at the impartiality of such a person.

Before Mr Moore jumps up and says that I am saying unkind things about public servants, I point out that I am in no way reflecting on the character of Mr Wynants. This is about the perception of bias and the position he held before he was appointed to this inquiry.

MR SPEAKER: You must remember standing order 117 (d), please.

MS TUCKER: I also raised concerns expressed to me by constituents that the conduct of the inquiry appeared to be legalistic and intimidating and that there were no provisions made for people with disabilities, such as accommodation for people using wheelchairs, at that directions hearing, which only served to heighten the view that the inquiry was not being conducted in a way that was sensitive or sympathetic to people with disabilities. I understand that the Chief Minister has been approached by community organisations to appoint a co-commissioner who has expertise in the field of disability services.

Chief Minister, when I asked your office and staff of the inquiry who had actually appointed the staff, no-one seemed to know. Can you now clarify for the Assembly why it was that people were not sure who had appointed the staff? Will you document the papers of the appointment, as I asked you to do in the letter? Can you now respond to the concerns that I have raised in the letter and have just repeated?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, quite frankly, I hesitate to thank Ms Tucker for that question because I think, to be quite honest, it is a very improper question and ought not to have been asked. Ms Tucker is doing on the floor of the Assembly what she has done in the ears of a number of people around the community in the last few weeks; that is, frankly, seeking to white ant the inquiry that Mr Gallop is conducting at this time. I have heard many criticisms emanating from Ms Tucker and I am concerned about those things.

Ms Tucker: Why don't you respond?

MR HUMPHRIES: I think that if the government were to engage in behaviour like the behaviour that Ms Tucker is engaging in at the present time with respect to an inquiry going on in the territory under the Inquiries Act there would be outrage in this place. The fact that it is coming from a member of the crossbench does not make it any more acceptable, Ms Tucker.

I believe that former Justice Gallop is eminently qualified to deal with every one of the issues that Ms Tucker has raised today-the issue about access of people to the inquiry; the issue of the formality or lack of formality, as the case may be, of the inquiry; the

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