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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3146 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

I am rather amazed that Ms Tucker is bringing forward a motion, particularly part 1 of that motion, that actually calls on the government to do something after a tender process has actually commenced. I think people need to think long and hard before they go down that path. As it is a possibility that Mr Berry's motion will get up, members should still think about having to re-tender, as the same issues arise.

Why should the Assembly become involved to that extent, especially when people have such concerns about process, concerns indeed that led to Mrs Carnell leaving this place as a result of perceived, or otherwise, breaches of process? I think the Assembly needs to be very, very careful before it considers Ms Tucker's motion, but even Mr Berry's as well, Mr Speaker.

I ask the Assembly to be sensible on this. Do not delay what is an important step towards much better health outcomes for our children. I think this is an exercise in prevarication. Ultimately, it is not going to assist the people we really want to assist, and those are the kids in our system who need that help and who will be fitter as a result. As a result of them being fitter, they will not contract a lot of potential illnesses that they might otherwise have contracted. Obviously, too, they will feel much better within themselves and, if they are physically fit, children tend to study harder and work better at school.

There are so many benefits of doing something to address the decline in physical fitness of our children, and this is, I think, an exciting step that goes down that path. I urge members to support the government on this.

MR KAINE (12.10): Ms Tucker has raised this issue today because she, and presumably other people, have some concerns about the process the government is using to let a contract.

I did not hear her question the concept of the assessment of children's health and fitness at all. I do not think she raised that question at all.

Ms Tucker: I did not. I said it was good.

MR KAINE: Yes, like motherhood and apple pie, it is good. Yes, so I am not entirely convinced, after hearing the minister, that there is not some substance to what Ms Tucker has asked the Assembly to consider.

I would have some caution about government contracting, because I think over the last few years the government has demonstrated that it is not all that hot at it. My opinion on that matter is supported by some people of substance, such as the Auditor-General of the ACT.

When we start looking at the way contracts are developed, the contents of them, and how efficacious they are in advancing the public interest, I think that it is appropriate that the matter be questioned. The minister responsible says, "We cannot stop now. We are in the tender process, and the government cannot intervene in the tender process." I beg to differ, Mr Speaker. If the government can be convinced that their tender process is flawed, and that they are likely to get a contract that is not in the best interests of the community, then they have an obligation to cut across the tender process.

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