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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 37


Senator MURPHY (12:17 PM) —I question that, because I can recall a number of occasions where reports were supposed to be made publicly available but their publication was delayed for a significant period. I am not saying that will be the case in this instance, but it seems to me that history would suggest that, without some time frame, you could delay an assessment being made public for a considerable period—maybe a year, maybe longer.

In regard to the question I asked about the recommendations: if the commission is making an assessment as set out in clauses 7(2) and 7(3)—for instance, whether or not a party has met its obligations under the National Water Initiative—one assumes the assessment will be critical to some extent and, as a result, the commission might make a recommendation as to what needs to be done. It seems to me that assessments are covered under 7(2) and 7(3). I accept that giving advice to the government is a separate matter and the recommendations as to what needs to be done are a separate matter, but I still cannot see why they cannot be made public. Indeed, I would think that in some instances if they were not made public it might add to the public confusion, not enhance it. Therefore, the public might find it difficult to accept and might ask: `What's going on? We have an assessment that is critical of a state or a territory in respect of not having met its obligations for some reason or other, but at the same time we don't know what the commission has recommended to the government because that can't be made publicly available.'