Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1052 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Let us be honest here. This is not really about probity because, as I have explained, that is all above board. This is about personalities and the fact that some people in this place are threatened by the success of certain people in our community, successful both in a business sense and a philanthropic sense. So, yet again, the Assembly is playing politics by tearing down an organisation and all its public servants by alleging that they cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

I want to put on the record that the CTEC staff and board do a great job in promoting Canberra and the facts that I have just mentioned highlight that. CTEC is doing the job asked of them. Their lease is almost up and they need affordable office space that suits their operations and provides a healthy, safe environment for their staff. They have conducted a proper process to identify suitable accommodation that meets their needs. They have negotiated a very good deal that is very favourable to the ACT ratepayer. There is no conflict of interest in this. Let them just get on with their job.

MR BERRY (4.32): I move:

Paragraph (1), line 1, after "Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts" insert the words "for misleading the Assembly and".

I will come back to the amendment in a moment. I will firstly deal with some of the issues that have been raised in the course of debate in relation to this matter. I make no comment about the legalities or otherwise of what has been going on between all of these companies but I am interested in the issue of conflict of interest. I am not interested in damaging any of these companies, but I am interested in drawing attention to a very strong question of the competence of this minister in relation to the management of this affair.

We know, for example, that this minister was briefed in relation to this matter. We do not know what the minister said. We do not know whether there were any directions-I assume that there were none; no written ones anyway. We do not know the detail of the comment between the minister and the CTEC board chairman. I suspect that we will never know because it probably was not written down anywhere. But I suspect from my experience of these matters that the minister's approval would have been required before CTEC moved to Canberra Airport, or at least there would have been a conversation between the chair of the board and the minister with the chair saying, "Well minister, we are going out there. If you have any objections let us know."

This goes to the issue of competence. Notwithstanding what CTEC thinks, if the minister has not raised questions about the issue of a major instrument of government policy shifting from the centre of the city, where it deals with tourism and events, out to the airport then I think there is a question about his competence . That is not the subject of any censure motion in the Assembly but, on further examination, there may well be a case for that course to be followed.

The other issue I want to deal with is conflict of interest. I hear people around the place saying there is no conflict of interest. Well, the common test for conflict of interest is the issue of perception determined by the ordinary man in the street. Let me paint you a picture. The situation is a bit like Canberra's version of the Brady Bunch, with two blended families involved in all of these companies. Whatever occurs within those

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .