Page 2352 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 16 June 2009

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members of this place that ministers will give up information only when they are pushed. That is why we have some of the exchanges in estimates—when ministers simply will not give answers to simple questions.

We have seen that coming right from the top, from Minister Katy Gallagher—her politicisation of the public service. It must be acknowledged that the head of the education department, or the acting head, made it very clear what she thought about this as a conflict of interest. She said that if it happened in education she believed that it would be a conflict of interest, which is why she would not have approved it.

It turns out that her predecessor, at the urging of the chief of staff of the education minister, did not believe that it was a conflict of interest and actually approved it. But Janet Davy got it right when she said that it would be a conflict of interest. Indeed, she deserves to be commended. We did not have any qualms by the health minister in compromising the head of her department in ensuring that the ALP got to use the hospital.

We saw the cover-up of embarrassing FOI documents; we have discussed that at length. We have not had time to go through some of the issues around land rent and some of the less than forthcoming answers we had from the Chief Minister in the lead-up to the election and after the election. That is something that, once people have had a chance to digest the estimates report, we as an Assembly will have to look at.

In relation to OwnPlace, there was misrepresentation. There was misrepresentation of what the committee said. The committee found that there indeed was misrepresentation of what went on in the committee by the Chief Minister.

I would just say to members of the Assembly—to all non-executive members and to all members—“Look at the report very closely.” As far as openness and accountability go, we saw the attempt to avoid them. We saw a number of examples of politicisation, failure to allow themselves to be scrutinised, avoiding issues deliberately and, on a number of occasions, giving contradictory evidence which had to be corrected and in some cases still has not been corrected. I would simply say to all those ministers who are particularly named that they should check the record, and they should come back and correct the record as soon as possible—(Time expired.)

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (4.09): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this matter of public importance today. I will focus on two aspects of this debate in the time that I have available to me.

The first is the extent to which open and accountable government, something which each member of the Labor Party in this place strives for, must nevertheless be tempered by the actualities of the real world: resources, logistics, commercial confidentiality, cabinet confidentiality and, importantly, genuine public interest. As anyone in Canberra who has ever done a decent day’s work in a government agency would know, these limits to which I have referred are real, not imaginary, and on occasion they are necessary.

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