Page 323 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008

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MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Seselja?

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, what actions will you take to ensure that government agencies have arms-length dealings with development proponents and why has it taken the Stanhope-Gallagher government seven years to do so?

MR STANHOPE: It is interesting, the supplementary question, in the context of a finding that relationships were not at arm’s length with proponents and then the other finding that the Auditor-General makes that the government should in fact put itself in the shoes of the proponent. In other words, on this notion of arms-length dealings, these are some of the issues that I look forward to discussing with the Auditor-General.

It is quite interesting that the Leader of the Opposition has in his question and his supplementary encapsulated some of the difficulty and some of the concern that I, and indeed members of the ACT government and the public service, have in understanding the full import or intent of some of the commentary which the Auditor-General makes in the report. The Leader of the Opposition has gone to some of the very difficulty or confusion which I and the government face on reading or having explained to us this report.

Mr Seselja in his question points to the nature of a relationship which was criticised by the Auditor-General for not being at arm’s length. In calling for an assurance that relationships will be at arm’s length, one has to then go to what is almost the major finding of the Auditor-General in this report—that, in future when a proponent comes to the government and seeks some assistance or facilitation, the Auditor-General recommends that the government should then advocate, with the community, through a consultation or engagement process, the proposal, even in advance of a decision by a proponent to actually proceed with the development or the nature of the development.

Mr Smyth: Perhaps she’s saying that you should find out how the community feels.

MR STANHOPE: No. You read the report and take your advice on those parts of the report that suggest to the government that the government should become the agent, the spokesperson, the explainer, the proponent, in that initial predevelopment application consultation with the community.

Quite frankly, these are some of the issues that I quite genuinely look forward to discussing with the Auditor-General when I meet with her in response to her invitation to meet to allow her an opportunity to explain these aspects. I must say I am hopeful that Mr Seselja and Ms Hunter will similarly accept the invitation which the Auditor-General has extended to them today to similarly meet with her for this same conversation. I am hopeful that, through meetings that the Auditor-General now proposes to have with all three of us, we can each come to a clear understanding of exactly what it was that the Auditor-General and her office intended in some of these findings or conclusions.

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