Page 2999 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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Despite it having a big impact, despite the constant calls, it remains secret. Where is the openness and the accountability for the decisions of this government? There is none, none at all. Where is the government’s commitment to scrutiny? It is nowhere to be found, nowhere at all.

So, in putting forward this matter of public importance, I have been searching for evidence of openness, honesty or, in the Labor Party’s terms, integrity and accountability in the negotiations of this government, but I have not been able to find much. For example, I looked for openness, honesty and accountability in the negotiations on the possible purchase of Calvary hospital. But where I found it was not in the ACT government; it was on that hospital’s website. It was the Calvary hospital website that was most helpful. There I found considerable openness, honesty and accountability.

I found media releases, a Q&A section, a collection of historical documents relating to the agreement between the Little Company of Mary and the government and even letters from the chair of the board of the Little Company of Mary Health Care going to some detail about the proposal and how he planned to progress it. That was open, that was honest and that was accountable to the people of the ACT who had been interested in what was going on at Calvary.

But how has this government been open, honest and accountable in this matter? What information has the government published? On the contrary, the Minister for Health has evaded and avoided scrutiny on this matter and presented the community with a closed and locked door. And this is evidenced no more starkly than the failure of a motion in last week’s Assembly to call the government to account, to put forward a business case and to demonstrate to the people of the ACT what the benefits of the sale of Calvary hospital would be.

Where is the government’s paper trail? Where is its Q&A? Where are its fact sheets and what is the deal? Where is the money going to come from and what will it do for the ACT health system and, through that, what will be the benefit for the people of the ACT? On all of those issues, we have been confronted with silence. There has been nothing—no openness, no honesty and no accountability.

We turn to the 23 schools that were closed in the last term of the government. What about openness, honesty and accountability there? Before the 2004 election, we had commitments from this govenrment that no school would close in the next term of the Stanhope government; that is, between 2004 and 2008. That was a constant commitment which was never, ever withdrawn. Over four years after that, we saw a constant progress towards closing schools. The first of those school closures was in 2005, with the closure of the west Belconnen high school, and that was just a warming-up for the closures that were announced in 2006 and eventually brought to fruition at the end of 2006, in 2007 and in 2008.

In reality, the government was hiding under the blanket, in the dead of night, peering at its secret little functional review, hoping no-one would catch it. This has been the whole modus operandi of the Stanhope government, especially in the last term but it seems to be operating in this term as well. Even when the sun broke, before the government emerged from under its blanket, before the torch battery expired, that

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