Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 5 May 2005) . . Page.. 1857 ..
The particular question was about home garaging of ACTPLA fleet vehicles. It was quite a reasonable question in the context, and Mr Corbell flat out refused to answer it, which was disappointing. There did not seem to be any real reason why not to do so. It did not identify individuals, or anything like that.
I have subsequently been told that Mr Corbell’s department has answered that question as a question on notice in the normal 30-day period, but there was a failure to answer that question for the committee. Of course, as we have seen, Mr Corbell has form on this issue. In the past he has been found to be in contempt of a committee for refusing to answer a particular question.
It is disappointing that Mr Corbell continues to do that. Obviously, the numbers in the Assembly are such that he probably will not be kept to account in formal ways as he was in the past, when, in fact, a committee unanimously found him to be in contempt of the Assembly, including his cabinet colleague, Mr Quinlan. Mr Quinlan said something along the lines of, “Well, yes; he was in contempt but it was not very serious.”
We certainly hope that, in the future—I certainly express that view—Mr Corbell will make himself more open and accountable to committees and that he will respect the committee process. It is an important part of scrutinising the work of government.
I do not think any of the questions we put were unreasonable. The reasonableness of those questions is demonstrated by the fact that I believe ministers of all departments have now answered basically an identical question subsequently put by Mrs Dunne. There was nothing inherently unreasonable about the question. Mr Corbell simply seemed to decide that he did not want to answer questions, and we have seen that before.
Mrs Dunne: Very revealing it was, too.
MR SESELJA: It was very revealing. I would like to make the point once more that it was disappointing, and I call on Mr Corbell in future to be a little more open with committees.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.53): Can I start by complimenting Mr Gentleman and the majority of the committee for bringing down a very sensible and reasoned report, which identifies issues of real concern and of interest to the community and indeed the government. We will certainly be taking into account the recommendations the committee has made.
Of course it seems that not a day can pass in this place without Mr Seselja or another member of the opposition deciding that it is time to kick me around the head. While I have no difficulty with that, because that seems to be the way the Liberal Party do their business now in the Assembly, I want to put a couple of points on the record in rebuttal.
At the time I did consider that the question being asked by Mrs Dunne—it was not asked by Mr Seselja—around where vehicles were home garaged was quite intrusive. I could not see the relevance of it. I indicated to Mrs Dunne that a better way to answer the question would be to say, “We can tell you how many kilometres the vehicles travel, so you can see how far they travel on a daily basis.”