Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2482 ..
Mrs Dunne: No, it is not. You have not mentioned the suspension of standing orders.
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, Mrs Dunne is seeking to suspend standing orders so she can move a motion, which is quite significant, directing me to release a certain document. In similar circumstances, Mrs Dunne could lodge a freedom of information request for this sort of information, but she would not normally obtain legal advice to the government in a freedom of information request, for obvious reasons.
The obvious reason is that it would be forcing the government to reveal legal advice provided to it, or to one of its agencies or authorities, when there is an existing contractual negotiation under way. When it is known in the public realm that other parties potentially wish to take legal action against that contractual negotiation, why should the government be forced to release its legal advice in that context?
It would potentially prejudice and expose the territory's position, when other parties are not being required to do the same. I believe that is highly inappropriate.
This Assembly has more things to do today than worry about this fairly cheap attack by Mrs Dunne, in an endeavour to make a scandal out of something which is not a scandal. If Mrs Dunne is so sincere about getting this information, there are avenues other than wasting the time of the Assembly during private members' business today.
MR SMYTH(Leader of the Opposition) (3.25): In his speech, Mr Corbell eloquently says why this information should be tabled. If the government has complied with all the terms and conditions-
Mr Hargreaves: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The minister is addressing the substantive issue, not the suspension of standing orders.
MR SPEAKER: That is a fair point.
MR SMYTH: I am speaking on what Mr Corbell spoke on. If I am out of order, then Mr Corbell is clearly out of order as well.
MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne drew the attention of the Assembly to the standing orders in relation to Mr Corbell's speech, and Mr Corbell referred to the suspension of standing orders. I would ask you to debate the substantive issue as well, which is the suspension of standing orders.
MR SMYTH: I believe we should suspend standing orders so we can gain access to this information. Throughout question time yesterday and today, Mr Corbell has hidden behind legal advice. The question is raised as to why, if the territory, through the GDA, had complied with all the terms and conditions of the document it put out before the tender went through, why do they need legal advice at all? The answer is that potentially they have not done that.
I believe it is fair and reasonable for members in this place to know whether the government is complying with its own processes and whether there is fairness and equity in what has been carried out. However, we are denied that on the possibility