Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 June 2008) . . Page.. 1902 ..
I believe that the minister for the environment, climate change, energy and water does deserve to be censured for his neglect of these portfolios in relation to the gas-fired power plant and data centres. He has done a great job as the minister for economic development spruiking the project, but he has done a very poor job as the minister for the environment and climate change. That is why I have moved my amendment.
Why a censure motion rather than a vote of no confidence? In the end, it is a question of degree. I support the criticisms of the ACT government and the Chief Minister inherent in this motion. A vote of no confidence in the Chief Minister is the strongest sanction that the Assembly can apply. While I am seriously concerned about this government’s approach and processes, I could not find a level of deception, corruption, incompetence or illegality in the examination of the issues before us at a level that would justify the government withdrawing its confidence entirely from the Chief Minister. In a few weeks the people of Canberra will have a similar opportunity to pass judgement on the integrity and capacity of this majority government. In this case, I believe we should censure the Chief Minister for the process and the outcomes and leave the final judgement or a vote of no confidence to the electorate.
If I could just have a moment or two, I will go back to the motion. The third part is about selectively releasing materials to the media which were withheld from the Assembly. As I have already mentioned, the government did not see fit to show me all the documents. There is no doubt that the bulk of available documents have been withheld from the Assembly and the public. There is the question of that important period—for which there are no documents—in which the crucial decision was made. I expected over the week to see some evidence of those documents. There was even talk at a briefing that I might see some of the memos from ActewAGL. But in the end I did not see those.
It is not as if I am on a misty-eyed democratic frolic of my own. I am concerned that the Freedom of Information Act was, in a sense, not used to its capacity and had its spirit broken. Most people do feel that when a government hides evidence it is because it has something to hide. The delicious irony in this case might be that the government has very little to hide but is so committed to a culture of secrecy that it has implicated itself by merely following standard operating procedure. I am not denying that the government has followed its own procedures, but it has used those procedures as a defence against full disclosure to the community. In none of the FOI decision letters is there one argument—not one argument—which acknowledges that there could be a public interest in disclosing how the intermediate and final decisions were made in this case.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.11): Mr Speaker, this is a motion which calls for the removal of the current Chief Minister from office and, therefore, for a rearrangement of the government. It is a very important motion and one which I take very seriously. In case there is any confusion I note that a motion of this kind is certainly not a show of hands for the general level of confidence or lack of confidence in the performance and policies of the Chief Minister and his government. That decision, of course, will be made by voters of the ACT in October, some 16 weeks from now.