Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (13 November) . . Page.. 3538 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
So the university's position is, as I understand it, that on and from 15 May the University of Canberra accepts that the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 applies to the university. It is making the point that it accepts all responsibilities in relation to its behaviour towards whistleblowers on and after that date. It obviously cannot accept them prior to that date insofar as it did not believe the act applied, and that is the point that the university seeks to make.
Having said that, the university, as I indicated yesterday, has every intention of fully cooperating with the ombudsman and with the Auditor-General's Office in relation to its inquiries to the extent that those inquiries go to matters that pre-date 15 May.
I hope that clarifies that particular issue. The university accepts absolutely that the Public Interest Disclosure Act applies. It accepted it came to that position on 15 May, having previously held a different opinion. As and from 15 May, it now accepts that all of its actions are and will be in accordance with that act-
Mr Humphries: Surely, it was always subject to the act.
MR STANHOPE: That is the position of the ACT government. The ACT Government Solicitor's advice in relation to this is that the university always was subject to the act. The university had, up until 15 May, disputed that, and I assume this is perhaps the first instance in relation to which that dispute became a matter of moment-
Mr Humphries: If you don't believe you're subject to the law, you're exempt from the law!
MR STANHOPE: I agree, and the ACT government's position and the advice of the ACT Government Solicitor is that the act has always applied. The university did not accept that position until 15 May. They now accept it. They act in accordance with it. But, in relation to the inquiry that is ongoing, they will cooperate fully, all documents will be made available and full cooperation will be provided by the university to the Ombudsman and to the Auditor-General's Office. The position of the government, of course, is to now await the outcome of those two independent statutory inquiries.
Advertisement for ministerial staff
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, in relation to the question asked of me today by Mr Stefaniak, I have been advised-and I will, of course, confirm this formally-that the process that was used in relation to the placement of the ad was that my office prepared the criteria under the name Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister. That was passed to the executive support unit within the Chief Minister's Department. The Chief Minister's Department forwarded the ad, as they always do, to the advertising agency that handles all of the ACT government's advertising work. The advertising agency in fact formatted it-erroneously formatted it in public service format-did return the formatted advertisement to the Chief Minister's Department, and the Chief Minister's Department regrets that it did not notice that the advertising agency had formatted it incorrectly. The Chief Minister's Department, of course, apologises for its oversight.