Page 1766 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2022
entire Assembly on exactly what has gone on here, if there are any questions to answer, and to provide advice not only to government but specifically to the CIT board on what may need to be done in the future.
The ACT Greens are pleased to support Minister Steel’s amendment to Ms Lee’s motion.
MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (4.42): Mr Steel, in speaking to his amendment, has attempted to explain what he, as the responsible minister, and the ACT Labor-Greens government have done about these serious issues that have now come to light about $8.87 million worth of taxpayer funding that has gone to seven contracts to one individual to provide services that even now no-one can tell me what they are for.
I have just had a quick read—granted, it was a very quick glance—of the letter that Minister Steel wrote to the CIT board, a “please explain” letter, which he referred to in question time. It actually raises more questions than it answers. As soon as it hit the media, the minister of course went straight into damage control and wrote to say, “Hey, what’s going on here?” The letter specifically states—and Mr Steel referred to this in question time—that he first raised these concerns with the CIT board over a year ago, in March 2021. I will quote directly from the letter:
In March 2021 I wrote to you seeking clarification of the nature of the first four contracts and how they contributed to the efficient, effective delivery of CIT’s mission to deliver high quality skills and training for the Canberra community.
In March 2021 the minister had cause to be concerned about four contracts with this individual. It is all good for the minister to come into this place now, in June 2022, and say, “I raised these concerns back in March 2021.” What has happened since? We know that there was a contract signed for $5 million literally a few months ago.
At best, CIT have no confidence in their own minister and, at worst, he has turned a wilful blind eye to what is going on. Is it good enough, when we are talking about $8.87 million worth of taxpayer funds, to say, “You know what? I wrote a letter 15 months ago”? That is literally the sum-up of the minister’s response as to what he has done about these serious concerns. He found out about the latest contract that is worth $5 million yesterday, no doubt when the media came asking, “What is going on here?”
Whilst the minister has attempted to try and explain all of the things that he and the Labor-Greens government have done, it begs the serious question: what, for the past 15 months, has this government done to protect ACT taxpayer funds from being grossly misused in this way? What have they done to try and get to the bottom of what is actually being delivered under these contracts?
I reiterate, Madam Speaker: March 2021, seeking clarification on the nature of the first four contracts. This is extraordinary. Minister Steel thinks that he can come into this place and go, “Hey, look at me; I’ve explained now.” It actually raises more questions about what he has done as the minister responsible and what this