Page 617 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022

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doubt provide the votes for Labor to amend my motion today, which again denies any responsibility for this culture of secrecy that they have fostered and are fostering.

The reality is that both Labor and the Greens enable this behaviour in their coalition government. They talk big on transparency and integrity, but they simply do not walk the walk. It is anything to stay in power. They will tell you that their procurements are at arm’s length and they have guidelines for everything probity-related: “Nothing to see here.” But guidelines and processes do not matter if the culture is rotten. Ultimately, the buck stops at the top of this Labor-Greens government that has been in power for 20 years.

Really, the biggest question arising from all of this is: how widespread are these issues? How far does the culture of secrecy spread under their watch? That is why, in my letter to the Chief Minister and in this motion today, I am calling on him to show leadership by commissioning an independent audit of all ACT government procurements since 2016. Canberrans deserve to know how their money is being spent and that they are getting value for money, not simply being used as pawns in a political coalition by Labor and the Greens to look out for each other.

In an annual report to shareholders in 2003 Warren Buffet said:

When managements take the low road in aspects that are visible, it is likely they are following a similar path behind the scenes. There is seldom just one cockroach in the kitchen.

It is clear that the practices that have developed, that have been allowed to be fostered by Labor and the Greens, lack probity and lack integrity. There is a history of questionable procurements and they deliberately obscure information that should be freely available to the public. We must have more transparency now, and that should start with an immediate audit of ACT government procurements. I commend my motion to the Assembly.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (3.37): The ACT government is committed to ensuring that all procurement activity is fair, open and undertaken in accordance with the provisions of the Government Procurement Act 2001, the Government Procurement Regulation 2007 and all relevant policy and guidance material.

The ACT government welcomes the ACT Auditor-General’s report on the Campbell Primary School modernisation project procurement and is currently developing a formal response to the report’s recommendations. I note that the Auditor-General undertook an audit on procurement exemptions and value for money in 2021. A government response was tabled in relation to that audit in October 2021 and Procurement ACT is progressing a work plan to implement its recommendations. The Auditor-General has also undertaken at least three other audits that relate to procurement processes in recent years. In addition, directorates may periodically undertake internal audits and compliance reviews of their procurement activity.

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