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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4167 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

would be common knowledge, that in opposition he had been to a number of estimates committees as a shadow minister. Indeed, his appearance at this Estimates Committee was his second as a minister. The practice in this place has always been that ministers answer questions to the best of their ability and give assistance to an estimates committee, which is a committee of the Assembly doing the business of the Assembly. It is quite clear that not giving information hinders the work of the committee. Giving information is something that all ministers have been able to do since the time this Assembly started, perhaps not always satisfactorily to the people actually asking for the information, but that is the nature of business in this place. At least they have given that information.

Contempt is a very serious matter. This is the only case of contempt that we have had before this Assembly and the committee has found Mr Corbell to be in contempt. The part of the recommendation I do not accept and have dissented from is that no further action should be taken. I do not think it is really the role of the Privileges Committee to make such a recommendation. The role of the committee should be to make findings on facts. Was there or was there not a contempt? We have found that there was a contempt. It is up to this Assembly, after we have reported, to consider what action should be taken against the minister, not for the committee to make any particular recommendation. Obviously, a finding of contempt is very serious. I think it is very sad that it had to come to this. No doubt, Mr Corbell is very much the wiser now. Nevertheless, the committee has unanimously found that he was in contempt and I believe that it is for this Assembly, not the committee, to recommend what further action should be taken.

In relation to recommendation 3, it is quite clear that everyone concerned felt that the officers concerned had been incredibly stupid in what they had done, everyone from the minister himself through to the officers concerned. The author and the officer who circulated the memorandum, Messrs Tatz and Rosenberg, have since apologised to the senior management of ACT Health and to their minister. They also took the opportunity of their appearance before the committee to express their very deep regret for their part in this incident. I would have to say that they both seemed quite genuine in that regard. I have been involved quite often in the past in examining witnesses in court matters and they certainly seemed quite genuine there. They both realised that the wording of the document was not appropriate and they did deny that the document was intended to be used to undermine the estimates process.

The committee was told that senior management in ACT Health commissioned an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the composition and publication of the document. The report on that was received on 22 July by the chief executive and, as a result, both officers were spoken to and admonished by the chief executive and the admonishment was recorded on their files as a formal disciplinary measure. The chief executive, Dr Sherbon, told the committee that it was of concern to him that none of the portfolio executives in Health who were recipients of this memorandum via email had picked up any problems with the document. He went on to say that the broader implications for the portfolio executive had been taken into account by him and that was why all members of the executive underwent leadership and integrity training.

Also, Health received a presentation from the former clerk of the Assembly on appropriate committee preparation, behaviour and service for the department and the chief executive assured the committee that the training would remain as part of an

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