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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2659 ..



Yes, I appreciate that he got some advice from the Clerk-we all go to the Clerk-but the process or the justification that he gave to the committee is flawed. Indeed, the advice that I have from the acting clerk said that it nevertheless does seem incongruous that there are two bodies receiving the Auditor-General's report at the same time. It is not possible. There is only one body to which it can be legally referred, and that is the PAC.

The other issue seems to be that, because there is a coronial inquiry, questions cannot be asked by a committee. Let us face it, there were I think four coronial inquiries inquiring into deaths in the disability community and the Gallop inquiry, but that did not stop questions being asked. The advice, again from the acting clerk, is, well, committees are able to canvass issues before a coroner but because this is not strictly speaking subject to the sub judice convention, committees need to be careful. Well, Mr Speaker, the Estimates Committee did not even get the opportunity to be careful, because the minister determined that he would not be speaking to it.

The issue was raised about whether I warned people that they were potentially in trouble, and I actually did. I said to Mr Wood that committees "are normally given answers". Mr Wood said:

Yes, I think that's right.

I said:

On very rare occasions would a committee be denied an answer. I will ask my questions.

Mr Wood said:

Well, this is one of those occasions.

And I did warn him. I said:

Well, then, Mr Wood, I suspect you run the risk of being in contempt of this committee and possibly in contempt of the Assembly.

He said:

Well, you may take that through. If that's the course you wish to take, you may do so. But I have stated the position, and the position holds.

Well, the position does not hold. Mr Wood makes the case that the two inquiries that he thinks will do the job better than the Estimates Committee are not creatures of the Assembly.

Mr Wood spoke about proper process. He said that we are ill-informed and it would be hurried. Well, Mr Wood's case is damaged simply because the Chief Minister answered questions about the bushfires and, indeed, provided me with answers to questions taken on notice. Ms Gallagher answered questions and allowed her officials to answer questions specifically about the bushfire and the days leading up to 18 January. Mr Corbell answered questions and allowed action to answer questions. If those three

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