Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2318..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
Minister explain why he made no reference to the issue of the extent to which his government and his ministers will accept responsibility for administrative action or administrative units?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I made it quite clear yesterday in answer to questions from Mr Stanhope what my view about that subject was, and I have done it again today. I have made my position perfectly clear this week in the Assembly, and on many previous occasions. I do not know how much more clarity Mr Stanhope requires or whether he wants a bolt of lightning from heaven to make that clear.
I say again, Mr Speaker, that the Auditor has brought down a report which has indicated in terms of the Bruce Stadium affair overall that there were a number of serious failings, and I have acknowledged those, and that there needs to be a change in the way government does things. I have also acknowledged the need for that. I have initiated that process and it will continue. I come back to the point that the Auditor has made in these comments, but it does appear that the opposition are quite prepared to choose to accept the Auditor's view when they want to and not to do so when they do not want to.
I remind you that it was the same Auditor-General who said the ACT made an operating loss of $344 in 1995-96, but that view appears to be fairly unpalatable and therefore can be easily dispensed with by the opposition. Either his words are engraved on tablets of stone or they are not, Mr Speaker. I suspect it is a case of you choose it when you want to choose it, and you don't when you don't want to.
Budget operating results
MRS BURKE: My question is to the Treasurer, Mr Humphries. Treasurer, I refer to claims by Mr Quinlan in this place yesterday that the improvements in the ACT government's financial position from a $344 million operating loss in 1995-96, inherited from Labor, to a balanced budget today was merely a result of fiddling with accounting. Can the Treasurer confirm to the Assembly that the figures in budget papers 2 and 3 for operating results in past years have been properly prepared and duly audited? In particular, can the Treasurer confirm to this Assembly that the operating result for the 1996-97 year is correct?
Mr Hargreaves: Here we go again.
MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mrs Burke for that question and, yes here we do go again, Mr Hargreaves. Mr Speaker, the fact is that Mr Quinlan has made a fairly serious set of allegations about not just the government-we are used to that and we take that on the chin every day. He has also made allegations which go well beyond the government into the public service that serves the government.
Yesterday Mr Quinlan made some fairly puzzling remarks. He said:
Can you imagine in 1997 Mick Lilley and Kate Carnell sitting down and knock up the first set of accrual accounting for 1996-97 and they find a loss of $170 million or $150 million? "Gee, this doesn't look good". Previously we've been talking about breaking even and deficits of $40 million. and what do you do? "Well, we better have a look backwards and see how it used to be, cough, cough."