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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1057 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

Later he was struck with the notion that perhaps he could not do that. What happened that made him change his mind? The only conclusion that you can come to is that he was heavied by somebody. Who might have heavied him to change his mind can only be conjecture, unless he comes clean and tells us what the sequence of events was and who it was that spoke to him and said, "Hey, minister, you got it wrong. We do not want you to do that." He did not mention the word "commercial-in-confidence" on the first two occasions he said he would put the documentation on the table. So something happened. To me, the fact that he changed his mind indicates that he initially decided to do the right thing by the community, to whom he is responsible, and then he changed his mind. He backed away from it. I would dearly love to know the reasons why he backed away.

Commercial-in-confidence has been a play thing of this government for some years now. Only within the last couple of weeks a member of the government wrote a letter to the Canberra Times that said the ACT government has abandoned commercial-in-confidence as a reason for not releasing information, that it is no longer a problem. I thought that was rather odd, because at the same time Mr Smyth was starting to say, "I can't put those documents on the table because they are commercial-in-confidence." So we had one member of the government saying that commercial-in-confidence is no longer a reason for withholding information as a matter of government policy and we had another minister saying he cannot do it because it is commercial-in-confidence.

I think the government needs to come clean and tell us just what the policy is now on commercial-in-confidence material. It needs to tell us when, if at all, a document ceases to be commercial-in-confidence and when it intends to release this sort of information. It has beaten its chest on a couple of occasions and said, "We abdicate from that former position and we are not going to hide behind the commercial-in-confidence anymore."

I must say that I am totally confused about the conflict of interest question. Ms Tucker put what I thought was fairly factual information on the table about the relationships between the various organisations and people who were clearly involved in the negotiations in getting CTEC to move out to Brindabella Park. The minister comes along and says, "No, you have got it all wrong. That is not right." One of the things he said repeatedly was that the Capital Airport Group is not involved in this. The question of whether or not there is a conflict of interest seems to hinge upon which particular organisation was negotiating with CTEC to make this move. Because of the people who sit on boards and the like, if it was one organisation then it could be argued there is no conflict of interest. If it was the other then you would have to say that, prima facie, there is a conflict of interest.

The minister kept saying that the Capital Airport Group was not involved in this, that anybody who could conceivably have a conflict of interest works for Capital Airport Group and therefore there is no conflict of interest. The minister did not explain, having made his overall statement, how it is then that the Capital Airport Group is the organisation mentioned in the papers that were sitting in the Clerk's office as the organisation with whom CTEC were negotiating. That is the first point.

Secondly, he has not explained how come he himself, in committee hearings, referred to Capital Airport Group as the group that was doing the negotiating on behalf of the airport. And he has not explained why the web site for Brindabella Business Park gives

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