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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 4 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 798..


MR MULCAHY (continuing):

This is weak reasoning that fails to recognise-as the Chief Minister also failed to do in his response to Mr Stefaniak's question yesterday-that these reports did provide useful and necessary information to the people of Canberra.

But let us put aside the insult to the intelligence of the people of Canberra and the question about their ability to read a report. The comment by the Treasury official reflects a government that has ceased to be transparent and that has abandoned the principles of openness, responsibility and accountability that were included in the Labor opposition's 2001 code of good government. It is therefore surprising that the comment was not made by the Treasurer himself.

Surely, if a government has decided to so consciously depart from good governance principles, the leader of that government should be willing to publicly take responsibility, and should not stand behind a Treasury official. In 2001 Jon Stanhope announced Labor's commitment to openness, responsibility and accountability. In 2007 it was left to a Treasury official to announce that the government had abandoned those same principles.

Mr Speaker, I was interested-as I am sure you were-to read the code of good government document. I agree that governments should be open, responsible and accountable. However, it is very difficult to reconcile this position with the decision to withhold information about the progress of capital works projects from the taxpaying public, especially in the situation we have now where the territory has had the greatest raft of tax increases we have known since self-government.

We have had increases in rates, annual charges, water abstraction charges, fire and emergency services levies and utilities taxes-on our phones and internet facilities. We have had all of these charges going up and yet the same government that says "You are living beyond your means"is not willing to tell you the state of its expenditure on capital works projects which are a significant part of the territory's budget outlays.

In addition to the failure to table the reports in line with longstanding convention, information has been withheld from the Liberal opposition. I have twice approached Mr Stanhope's office with a request for information or a briefing on the status of capital works projects. No information or assistance has been forthcoming. This is without precedent in my almost three years within the Assembly.

That is why the ACT Liberal Party has been forced to move this amendment to the Financial Management Act. It is not something we do lightly, but we cannot get the information at the moment. We are being ignored in our requests for a private briefing on this information. We are having to go to the Assembly and, on behalf of the people of Canberra, seek legislation that compels the government to adhere to the levels of accountability to which it claims a great level of adherence.

It is sad that the ACT Labor government has departed from its so-called long-held convictions of principles like openness and accountability. The idealism that we saw in 2001 contained in the code that I cited seems to be rapidly going out the door as


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