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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2026 ..



"David,", to David Kilby, "there are two aAssembly committees that have been deliberating that will hand down reports, I think, today".

"Interestingly, the Assembly's Estimates Committee, which scrutinises the government's budgetary work, was certainly burning the midnight oil last night.

Now, we had a message from someone on our answering machine at 1.30 am this morning. They obviously believe that we get in to work a little earlier than we do."

Mr Kilby then now goes went on a little, as presenters do-they play off each another-do they lay paid one to the other, and said:

... t"The burning of the midnight lamp by Jimi Hendrix;, that's what's done it, and the reason why they've been deliberating so long is that there'dll be some criticism perhaps of ministers not answering questions before the Estimates Committee; those questions being, of course, about the January fires during the Emergency Services Bureau questioning".

I am not looking for a major witch-hunt. At various times privileges committees are asked to look at who is responsible. This motion doesn't ask that. It simply asks: was there a breach and a contempt? I must not try to pre-empt the findings of the committee but, if after consideration it is deemed that that is the case, I would simply like to see a message that emphasises that members should not step beyond the standing orders. I think they are well based and I cannot imagine any reason for indicating what would be in a report.

I indicated that 20 August-the Wednesday of the next sitting period-would be the reporting date. I think the committee could just about consider this whole matter in one one-hour session.

I emphasise that I am not seeking a major investigation into who and what, but, if appropriate, I would be looking for members of the Assembly to be reminded of their obligations.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (3.39): Mr Speaker, the opposition will be agreeing with the motion. We think the early release of these reports, or the recommendations from these reports, is unacceptable because the nature of the committee structure relies upon the trust that we place on each other as members. So we don't have a dilemma with that at all.

The opposition will be moving an amendment, though, which I believe has been circulated in my name. If a privileges committee is to be set up, it would seem logical that it might also examine a few other matters. I think as members are well aware, the Estimates Committee asked me, as chair of that committee, to move at the earliest possible occasion the amendment that I believe is now in front of members. That amendment concerns the refusal of Mr Wood to answer questions of the select committee, the refusal of Mr Corbell to answer questions and the creation and the distribution of the document known as Budget Estimates 2003.

The reason these three matters must be added to the motion is that they deal with very dangerous precedents for governments, particularly in the territory but, of course, across Australia. The problem with what happened in the Estimates Committee is not that Mr Wood failed to answer questions but that he ruled out answering them outright. He

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