Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3163 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
On whether Mr Whale, also a member of the board of ACTION, might be seen to have a conflict of interest, Mr Corbell said that there were provisions if conflicts arose, as with any member of a board.
Minister, you had previously announced your philosophy on conflict of interest in the Assembly on 23 March 1999: "If there is a conflict of interest, you should take steps to avoid it." What provisions exist relating to the operations of the ACTION board if Mr Whale or any other board member has a conflict of interest? In particular, what issues, if any, trigger application of the procedures related to conflict of interest in Mr Whale's case? Can you advise the Assembly on how many occasions Mr Whale has been required to take action when problems with an actual or perceived conflict of interest have arisen?
MR CORBELL: Isn't it interesting, Mr Speaker? As soon as the Labor government appoints an employee representative to a board, that person is automatically targeted by the Liberal Party. Isn't it interesting that that ideological bent has come through. There has been no questioning of the other appointments to the ACTION board. They are all right, but because Mr Whale is a union employee he is automatically suspect. That is what the Liberal Party is saying to us, and it is an unacceptable approach.
All members of the ACTION board are required to abide by the ACT government's requirements for members of governing boards when it comes to conflicts of interest. It is the responsibility of the board itself to ensure that those provisions operate appropriately and in the circumstances where they should operate. I have confidence that the chairman of the board, Mr Butcher, will ensure that that is the case.
In relation to the question raised by Mr Pratt about whether such circumstances have occurred to date, I am happy to inquire of ACTION and advise the Assembly accordingly. The final point I would make is, if the Liberal Party had a problem with this appointment, why did they say it was okay when it went through the relevant standing committee?
MR PRATT: Minister, why did you appoint Mr Whale to the board of ACTION, given that there were always going to be problems with conflict of interest?
MR CORBELL: Mr Pratt's assertion is simply wrong. There is not necessarily going to be a conflict of interest. I would only make the point that, if the Liberal Party felt that it was inappropriate to appoint someone like Mr Whale to the ACTION board, they had an opportunity to say so. They had an opportunity to raise any concerns with me when the appointment was formally referred, I think, to the committee that Mrs Dunne chairs, for comment. I do not recall receiving any objections or expression of concern whatsoever.
Gungahlin Drive extension report
MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Planning. Minister, according to media reports, an independent assessment carried out jointly by your government and the AIS has been highly critical of the proposed western route for the Gungahlin Drive extension. It has drawn attention to noise levels, pollution and the general loss of amenity affecting the AIS. These are matters of deep concern which raise issues that should be carefully considered.