Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2541 ..
from the MBA, may be the subject of legal action by other unsuccessful bidders. I think it would be an unprecedented step for a government, which is potentially facing legal action by unsatisfied parties, to have to provide to this Assembly the advice which underpins the action which is the subject of the potential dispute.
That is the issue that we are debating: should the government be forced to provide legal advice which, in any other circumstance, would be privileged client/lawyer information? That is the proposition. It's not about housing affordability; it's not about all the other issues about whether or not people can afford to buy land in the ACT. Mrs Dunne wraps all the argument up into that, but what Mrs Dunne is asking me to do today, if her motion is successful, is compromise the position of a territory instrumentality in terms of the legal advice it has received which may be the subject of court action.
It's just not acceptable from the government's perspective. No government has been asked to do such a thing. I would have no problem providing this advice if the contract was effectively done, and the matter was resolved, so that people could see on what basis the government acted. I would have no problem with that. But that is not the case.
What we have is a contractual arrangement which is in the process of being either finalised or terminated between the Gungahlin Development Authority and the successful bidder for Harrison 1. Other parties have indicated publicly that they are seeking advice as to whether or not they should take legal action against the actions of both the successful bidder and the Gungahlin Development Authority. This legal advice is central to that matter, to that dispute, which third parties are indicating publicly they are seriously considering taking action against. It would undermine the position of the territory to provide that advice on the public record.
Mr Speaker, if members feel so concerned about this matter-and clearly Mrs Dunne does-I am happy to provide a briefing to Mrs Dunne so that she can see the legal advice, but on the basis that it is in-confidence; so that she can satisfy herself as to whether or not the advice warrants the action that the GDA has taken. But it must be on an in-confidence basis, for the reasons that I've outlined. But I'm happy to show her that advice. I'm happy to show other members that advice.
Mr Speaker, the proposition that Mrs Dunne is pushing today threatens the position of any government and any government instrumentality now or down the track that, whenever there is a contentious dispute involving third parties, the Assembly can be used as a vehicle to obtain a legal opinion.
Mr Speaker, the government's view on the motion is that it's not, we believe, an appropriate course of action for Mrs Dunne to pursue today; that there are other avenues open to Mrs Dunne, as I've indicated just now in the debate. I would urge members not to support the motion.
MR STANHOPE(Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (11.12): I would wish to speak only very briefly on the issue, to support the position or argument put by my colleague Mr Corbell. I believe it would be unprecedented, in an environment where organisations or individuals have clearly indicated that they're actively considering legal action against the territory or an instrumentality of the territory, that the territory would release its legal advisings in