Page 2797 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 24 June 2009

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

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Auditor-General Amendment Bill 2009

Mr Smyth, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.03): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I welcome the opportunity to introduce this bill into the Assembly. This is a very timely bill, given the extraordinary outburst last week from the Chief Minister, the elected leader of our community, about the way in which he intends to deal with the Auditor-General and her office. This was a disgraceful outburst in which the Chief Minister, obviously reacting to a report that had criticised his government, suggested that the Auditor-General was not efficient, that the Auditor-General had too many resources and that a rigorous audit be undertaken of the ACT Auditor-General’s Office.

The question that the Chief Minister’s outburst raises is: how could the community trust a Chief Minister who, in the face of criticism of a government program, reacts as he did to such a balanced report from the ACT Auditor-General? Indeed, there has been such a negative reaction to Mr Stanhope’s outburst that we see in today’s Canberra Times an attempt by the Chief Minister to retreat from this position. The Chief Minister said he was not reacting to the Auditor-General’s report; rather, he was just responding to questions from a journalist. How irrational is that? This really is a policy on the run from a Chief Minister who has clearly lost the plot.

Moreover, what a contrast there is between this outburst and the scene that was set by the then Leader of the Opposition, Jon Stanhope, eight years ago, when in a speech in Canberra on 14 March 2001, the then Leader of the ACT Opposition, Jon Stanhope, said:

Openness is one of our core values.

Let me repeat that comment from 2001. Jon Stanhope said:

Openness is one of our core values.

What has changed over the intervening eight years? Jon Stanhope has become the Chief Minister and is determined to stay there by whatever means are required, including suppression of criticism. What the Chief Minister said last week is very scary and should concern everyone in the ACT. Indeed, it should concern people generally. It is in this new environment that I introduce this bill today.

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