Page 1783 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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Time and again, the ministers in this Labor-Greens government, and the backbenchers who are supporting them, go into denial mode because, of course, they are untouchable; they could never do anything wrong. They run a protection racket that breeds the toxic culture that we see permeating through this astonishing—astonishing—misuse of public funds. Let me be clear: every single one of the members in this place that provides the vote of confidence in this minister today is complicit in this gross misuse of public funds. I say directly, through you, Madam Speaker: your vote today will speak to your personal sense of integrity, transparency and good governance.

I have heard almost every single member of the Greens in this place talk at some point about transparency, about accountability, about integrity. Only yesterday, Ms Clay used the word “transparency” 11 times whilst speaking in this place—11 times. How will she vote today? Mr Davis, in his weak defence of the minister yesterday, spoke about the efficient use of public funds. How will he vote today? History tells us, of course, that when it comes to actually putting their vote where their cheap words are, the Greens always fail.

How will they vote today? Will they compromise their own integrity to keep their seats at the ACT cabinet table, to protect their political partner, or will they stand up for Canberrans, draw a line in the sand and say that they do not support this shocking misuse of Canberrans’ taxpayer dollars—that it is absolutely and utterly unacceptable that this minister knew, 15 months ago, and allowed two additional contracts, worth $5.5 million, to be signed under his watch. To date, this will be the biggest test of the Greens’ integrity in this place.

Labor members also mention transparency a lot. Dr Paterson gave transparency a mention yesterday. So did Ms Cheyne and so did Ms Stephen-Smith. Even the Minister for Skills himself saw fit to use it. So let me remind members of what has been going on under the government that is headed up by these members who apparently believe that transparency is so important.

Since 2017 there have been at least seven contracts, totalling $8.87 million, awarded to one individual by CIT. The minister himself has admitted that he found this concerning and, in fact, reached out in March last year to ask about four of those contracts, worth a total of $3.36 million. So what has happened after that? Either through incompetence or complicity, CIT has gone on to misappropriate $5.5 million more of taxpayer funds across two further contracts to the same individual. The minister himself, in describing the latest $5 million—

Ms Stephen-Smith: Madam Speaker, a point of order.

MADAM SPEAKER: Point of order.

Ms Stephen-Smith: Ms Lee has made a very serious accusation against CIT of misappropriating funds. There is currently no evidence that funds have been misappropriated, and I ask that Ms Lee withdraw that accusation against CIT.

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