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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3742 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

The Auditor-General made some recommendations to the committee which the committee took on board. We would hope that they are progressed in the next Assembly. I thank the people who took time to make submissions, especially the people who came before the committee and spoke to us about very difficult issues for them. I thank them for taking the time to come before the committee.

I thank Mr Kaine, Mr Hargreaves and Mr Hird for their assistance on not just this report but our many other reports. I am sure that with our many scrutiny of bills reports we could challenge Mr Hird's claim, but we will not do that. I thank members of the committee for their assistance over the last 31/2 half years. I thank Mr Kaine for his wisdom, Mr Hargreaves for making me change my mind on things for no reason other than, if I did not, he got cranky with me, and Mr Hird for gracing us with his presence. I also thank our secretary, Fiona, for her assistance over the last couple of years.

I commend the report to the Assembly

MR KAINE (11.39): I do not think I need to spend a lot of time on this matter. In speaking briefly to the report, I would like to go back to some of the comments I made when I tabled the original draft of this bill a couple of years ago. I said, amongst other things, that official or public corruption is one of the great evils of our time and unfortunately we cannot assume that our territory is immune from this creeping cancer. The cost to the community of such conduct is immense, not just in dollars but in the damage done to community confidence in public administration. The evidence taken by the committee supports the things I said then.

The one disappointing thing for me as a member of the committee looking at this bill was the response from the government. The government's response, quite simply, was that they objected to the bill on the basis that it would not be cost effective and there was no evidence that corrupt activity existed in the ACT. That was the line the Chief Minister took in debates in this place earlier.

If the Chief Minister and other members of the government had heard some of the evidence presented to the committee by people who feel themselves to be victims of the present system, they would have to change their view. I am not saying that individuals in the system are corrupt, but there is clear evidence that the systems themselves have failed a lot of people and that there has been, if you like, a corruption of the system. We do not understand why that is the case, but it would seem that public officials somehow do not focus sufficient attention on matters that are of serious concern to the community.

The committee-and I agree with the recommendations of the committee-has suggested that my bill not be proceeded with. The reason we came to that conclusion was not that there is no corruption and not that there is no need for some action to be taken, but that after having spoken to the ICAC commissioner and assistant commissioners in New South Wales we agreed that the structure of the ICAC in New South Wales, on which my bill was modelled, was inappropriate for us. It requires too great an infrastructure, and it would entail expenditure probably beyond the means of the ACT, if not beyond the needs of the ACT. I accept that.

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