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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4169 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

hearing that he would be issuing the figures within a week of the hearing anyway, so that the figures would be available to all and sundry. The point really swung on a refusal to provide the figures then.

I think that the Assembly ought to look at events that followed that hearing and, particularly, events that did not follow that hearing. Mr Corbell did publish the figures on the next day, as Mr Stefaniak stated. The Estimates Committee did not recall Mr Corbell to examine those figures. The Estimates Committee showed no interest in those figures beyond the moment. Mr Corbell appeared before the Estimates Committee at a later stage wearing another portfolio hat and the committee did not even take the opportunity at that stage to discuss the particular waiting list figures, so that quite clearly the committee was not particularly interested in those figures for the purposes of its deliberations. Ergo, the deliberations were not obstructed in any manner at all.

We need to be a little careful. This Assembly, since the advent of self-government, has struggled for community acceptance and it has struggled for community respect. That respect starts with us and we must respect the Assembly and its various committees and structures. However, we need to maintain a balance and a perspective. I do recall the headline "The house of farce", with this place being labelled as such. There is a danger that we can overdo the breast beating for purely petty political ends. We all know that the estimates committee operation, in practice, is generally quite wide-ranging, which is not a bad thing. It is not a bad thing that we have a committee that gets to question the government on a wide range of topics; the opportunities are not presented that often. Quite often the estimates committee is a meandering process and quite often it is a short-term political point scoring opportunity.

Clearly, this incident, which could be described, I think, as a little bit of antler rattling between a couple of members of this place, falls into that category of political point scoring. The Estimates Committee, by its actions beyond the incident, by its inaction beyond the point of the incident and by virtue of the content of its report, had no particular interest in these figures. The Estimates Committee was advised that those figures would be available within days. They were, in fact, available virtually immediately, but the committee was advised that they would be available within that week.

That should not and cannot be interpreted as a significant obstruction. There might have been a little bit of schoolboy disobedience by Mr Corbell in front of the committee, but that is what it boiled down to and it was quite clear from the evidence that this was a minor point scoring exercise. I still think that it is the responsibility of members to answer when they can or to advise the committee that they will take the question on notice and provide information, but let me say that this incident does not qualify as a significant obstruction to the work of that committee.

I disagree strongly with Mr Stefaniak's conclusion that it was not the job of the committee to make recommendations as to further action. That was exactly our job. We were not there simply to find facts, otherwise virtually every committee report that is tabled in this place would be deficient because you would just get a catalogue of data, maybe a catalogue of what other people said, and you would not get the benefit of the committee's deliberations. We have what are called deliberative meetings within our committee process in order that a committee can do its job and its job is to examine a

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