Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2476..
MR KAINE (continuing):
I find the minister's explanation of his failure to respond to these questions and his continuing failure to respond to them to be unconvincing, unsatisfactory and unacceptable, and I think the Assembly ought to agree with that proposition.
MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (3.39): Mr Speaker, I want to speak briefly on this matter. Mr Smyth has not produced the figures Mr Kaine has asked for. There is no dispute about that. He asked for them some time ago, and they have not been produced. The reason Mr Smyth has not produced the figures is that, in effect, they are not yet there.
Mr Berry: Oh yes they are!
Mr Kaine: They're still trying to cook the books, are they?
MR HUMPHRIES: I am advised that the audited figures have not yet been produced. If unaudited figures were produced and then audited figures were produced that in some way differed from the unaudited figures, there would be an issue. Comments such as: "Oh look, the government's cooking the books" would be made, and to avoid that it is quite appropriate for the minister to table accurate figures. I am sure Mr Kaine is after accurate figures, and the most accurate figures are the audited figures.
It does raise the issue of how one can comply with a requirement to answer a question within a certain period of time if the information being sought is not yet available. If, for example, someone were to ask Mr Stefaniak today for the results of the ACT election on 20 October, he would be unable to comply with the standing orders.
Mr Stanhope: He could give a rough estimate. He could give a pretty fair guess.
MR HUMPHRIES: Your confidence has been noted, Mr Stanhope. The fact is that it would not be possible to provide the election results, and I think this is a similar case. The figures cannot be provided until they are properly produced and verified. In this circumstance, Mr Smyth should be forgiven for not being able to comply with the standing order because of the inability to do so reliably.
MR BERRY (3.41): It must have been about a month ago that I called for the release of these figures, and the response, basically, was: "We'll release them when we're ready." Strong rumours abound that the numbers at the V8 car race were significantly down. Mr Kaine asked a reasonable question about the tickets that were sold. I can understand why the government would not want to release those figures before they are audited: if they are bad once, when they are audited they are going to be bad twice. There is little point in the government releasing these figures.
It became quite clear to me whilst the V8 car race was on that there were reasonable suspicions that the numbers were down. In fact, I was informed by somebody expert in these matters that we ought to expect the numbers to drop in the second year. None of this was factored into the government's accounting when it came to finding the money for the V8 car race.
Mr Stanhope: This isn't the business plan?