Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 July 2008) . . Page.. 2621 ..
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.27): The subject of this matter of public importance is the failure of the government to release all documents in relation to the gas-fired power station and data centre. I guess there is an irony in this. I do believe Ms Gallagher called upon the opposition to produce the evidence, but the evidence is that the documents are missing so they cannot be produced. The evidence cannot be produced. Only the government can produce the evidence and, if they produce the evidence, the opposition’s case would be proven. So we are here in a bit of a stalemate. That means that we are left to find out the truth of this assertion or not by other means available to us.
I do need to remark on Ms Gallagher’s sort of taunt, I guess, that neither the independent nor the Greens supported the opposition’s no-confidence motion. She did conveniently forget that we had tried to turn it into a censure motion, which is not a light matter. Ms Gallagher and Mr Corbell argued long and hard that it is appropriate that the minister must remain at arm’s length from the process and she spent quite a lot of time proving this. But there are two questions that this raises: did they and, secondly, should they, the shareholders?
While we are very happy that the government seems to have come, rather lately, to the view that this is an issue of concern requiring serious consideration and not just a brushing off as a NIMBY project or an opposition obsession, the Deputy Chief Minister, the Minister for Health, did call for a health impact assessment, oddly enough at the scaled-down end of the project. Interestingly enough, it could not be done when the bigger project was on the board because it would have been inappropriate to announce it before the end of the preliminary assessment process. But it was announced before the end of the preliminary assessment process for the downgraded proposal.
We have a problem here: we have not got the documents so we cannot prove they were missing. I guess the only thing we can do really, and it raises questions if not answers—it is a question and it is not an answer—is to look at the cover letters for the freedom of information documents. I have here cover letters from the Chief Minister’s Department and from the Land Development Agency. They are in different fonts but their wording is, interestingly, extremely similar. If I were a Media Watch presenter, I would probably regard this as conclusive evidence. But I am not a Media Watch presenter, so I just point out that there are some repetitions of words here which indicate that there was certainly cross-communication, if not a format that comes from somewhere else. Remember: Land Development Agency and Chief Minister’s Department. I am reading—not that it makes much difference—from the Chief Minister’s Department’s letter here and here are some of the words:
I have decided to exempt from release under section 35(1) of the Act all draft Cabinet submissions, and material describing the content of Cabinet documents, together with comments from agencies that constituted part of the process of drafting those submissions. Such comment is found in both emails and briefs.
I will not go on; I could tender these as evidence. I will do that. Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table these documents.