Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 June 2009) . . Page.. 2280 ..
Assembly, one each from the government, the opposition and the crossbench, who could look at this not only from the perspective of this particular issue but also in regard to maintaining the integrity of the Assembly and of the public service.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Women) (10.45): Just when you think the Assembly can’t sink to a new low, it does. We return after the estimates break and we come to a new low standard in the Assembly. What a surprise! When we have got matters to debate such as the budget, Mr Hanson had his feelings hurt during the adjournment. Instead, we have to spend the next two hours working through his issues with him, but with serious consequences.
We expect this from the opposition, but what we see today is a new low from the ACT Greens, who have now decided that, if someone in public service wants to respond to criticisms, unsubstantiated claims and serious allegations that are being portrayed in the media, they do so with the fear of a privileges inquiry being launched against them if they choose to take that action. This is a new low, and one I had not expected from the Greens but, you know, if you stay in this place long enough you do get surprised and you see it all.
I will respond to Mr Hanson’s concerns. We did deal with this matter at estimates, where we answered a number of questions. Following that, a media release went out with some quite unsubstantiated but very serious allegations being made in that media release. In fact, whilst Mr Hanson tabled all the documents, I note that he did not read from any of them. The claims in the media release were that the document was censored by the government to try to avoid this embarrassing fact becoming public. That is one of the claims.
The other claim in the media release is that the only rational explanation to remove these words was to cover up the government’s embarrassment and that there is no legitimate excuse for their removal. Obviously, Mr Hanson had been to the decision maker, Mrs Dunne’s office, and got that little gem from there. We are told that this shows yet another case of a shameful attempt to cover up the minister’s embarrassment by misuse of process. What we have from Mr Hanson is claims that there was a misuse of process, that the decision maker was wrong and that the government had censored this information to stop this information becoming public.
For the record, I could not care less if information on the winery cellar door bed-and-breakfast was released. I could not have cared less. I actually do not find it embarrassing at all, and I do not find it compromises the issue of the bush healing farm. Nonetheless, a decision maker viewing that FOI application had views about that and, should I say, there are channels within the FOI process if you want to appeal that decision. But Mr Hanson decides not to appeal. He decides to make all these claims public. Then he gets offended when the agency that he is slandering in public actually responds and seeks to protect its reputation. That is what he objects to.
When we look to Mr Cormack’s letter—and I note Mr Hanson did not read that out—he further alleges that he was instructed to do certain things. There is no instruction in this letter at all. I will read it: