Page 2048 - Week 06 - Thursday, 7 May 2009

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Ayes 10

Noes 7

Ms Bresnan

Ms Hunter

Mr Barr

Ms Porter

Mr Coe

Ms Le Couteur

Ms Burch

Mr Stanhope

Mr Doszpot

Mr Rattenbury

Mr Corbell

Mrs Dunne

Mr Seselja

Ms Gallagher

Mr Hanson

Mr Smyth

Mr Hargreaves

Question so resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.

MR RATTENBURY: I thank the members of the opposition for giving me the opportunity to continue for just a few more minutes on this important matter.

As I was saying before the small interruption, the government’s media release of 9 November 2005 uses the terms “government” and “cabinet” interchangeably. The only mention that the report will be provided to cabinet is in the very last paragraph. This is a curious thing for a document which it is now claimed as solely and exclusively prepared for the extremely limited purposes of being considered exclusively by five or fewer ministers and a limited number of senior bureaucrats. We will not mention the business council that they briefed on it.

Any finite number is, of course, a limited number. I suspect the limited number in this instance is considerably larger than “a couple” or “several” or even “a few”. But the arbiter was never told just how large a limited number actually was. I assume there was also no discussion of the implications of the monthly progress reports from Michael Costello’s team to the Chief Minister and the Treasurer which, presumably, the government also considers to be covered by executive privilege.

Given what I have already said, the functional review appears to be a lot broader than merely a document prepared solely for cabinet, the disclosure of which would, in the Chief Minister’s own words, “throw out the window any notion of responsible government completely” or “jeopardise parliamentary democracy and significantly undermine the continued effective operation of the government”. They are big calls. Maybe he is right, probably he is wrong. We have no way of knowing for certain.

I suspect a large part of the government’s reluctance to let the public and the Assembly see this report or the review or any documents related to the report or the review other than the terms of reference is that history has proven it to have been so wrong and that revealing its contents would show how poor the cabinet’s own independent understanding of the ACT public service and financial situation was. Perhaps it would reveal which cabinet members had a competent grasp of what the real situation was and which ones were uncritical conduits for the views of others. That would be embarrassing—severely embarrassing perhaps. But that is not a sound basis on which to withhold from the Assembly or the public information which would explain the extraordinary and, with the benefit of hindsight, socially and environmentally irresponsible 2006 budget.

I wonder what the Chief Minister makes of Senator Faulkner’s directive reported in yesterday’s Canberra Times—so undoubtedly he saw it—to all commonwealth

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .