Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 June 2022) . . Page.. 1754 ..
So this motion calls upon the Assembly to affirm the role of the audit authority to satisfy all of us about how public money is spent. It is quite the topic of debate today, isn’t it, Mr Assistant Speaker? It is quite the topic of today—how public money is spent—because it looks as though there is, potentially, in some areas, quite a bit that has been spent badly. Further, it calls upon the Assembly to acknowledge the validity of the ACT Auditor-General’s findings on the gaping holes in the economic analysis of light rail stage 2A; for us to all agree that we have not been presented with proper coverage and transparent appraisal of the true costs and benefits of this part of the project; and to direct the government to do exactly what the Auditor-General asked them to do—do the business case properly and then show it to all of us. Is that really too much to ask?
We know that this motion will be amended into oblivion by the government because we are seeing time and again that scrutiny is not their friend and transparency is just a word which has no place in the way that the government go about their business. What we see time and again from this government is, “It’s my way or the highway.” Correspondence can be entered into but they are not going to read it anyway. They are not going to consider it. Cost is irrelevant because it is not their money; it is your money. To the taxpayers: it is your money.
When the Auditor-General of this territory makes a call that he wants you to go back to the drawing board, do the numbers properly and then share them with the rest of us, we are of the belief, the Canberra Liberals, that that is what you should be doing. I commend my motion to the Assembly.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (4.05): I rise to set a few things straight for Mr Parton and those opposite. Mr Parton’s motion quotes the Auditor-General at length, so I will start by doing so too:
On 10 September 2019, a redacted version of the City to Woden Light Rail: Stage 2a City to Commonwealth Park Business Case … was made publicly available.
That is a clear quote from the Auditor-General. At the time, yes, sections were redacted from that public document because they were commercially sensitive. They had pricing details that may have prevented the ACT government from getting a good deal in negotiations with any future delivery partner—value for money—something the opposition claim that they want to achieve through procurement but, on the other hand, are arguing against. You just cannot have it both ways.
To resume quoting the Auditor-General, the published business case:
… provided details for the design and construction of light rail between the City and Commonwealth Park and the ongoing operation and maintenance of that component of the light rail system. The Stage 2a Business Case also includes information associated with the economic analysis for Light Rail Stage 2a.
The Auditor-General then went on to detail publicly the present value figures for the benefits and costs of the project, which were made publicly available by the Chief