Page 1784 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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MADAM SPEAKER: Ms Lee, would you—

MS LEE: Madam Speaker, I withdraw. I say misuse of $5.5 million more of taxpayer funds across two further contracts.

The minister himself, in describing the latest $5 million contract in his correspondence of yesterday to the CIT board chair, said:

I have reviewed the tender documentation and contract for this procurement and am unable to determine the specific work to be delivered through it, based on the use of jargon and an ill-defined statement of requirements.

It seems that the minister and I agree on one thing at least. Nobody understands the wilfully opaque, meaningless and unintelligible language used to describe the apparent services to be provided under these contracts. Even this morning on ABC radio the CEO was asked multiple times to explain what these services are and could not and would not explain in plain English what it all actually all means. And nobody can point to any meaningful outcome that has been delivered to CIT or to the Canberra public as a result of $8.87 million of taxpayer funds spent on this one individual over the past five years.

I also note that the minister yesterday raised the governing structure of CIT several times, in an attempt to begin laying the foundation to sacrifice the board to save his own skin. My question to the minister today is this, through you, Madam Speaker: if you have the authority to write to the board to ask them to explain the expenditure of public funds, are you not ultimately the one responsible? If the board is answerable to you as the minister, are you not ultimately the one responsible? If you have the privilege of bearing the title of Minister for Skills, with all the benefits and responsibilities that come with it, are you not ultimately the one responsible? We all know that the answer to those questions is yes, Minister.

The minister also has a series of questions to answer around the Government Procurement Board. How was CIT able to blatantly ignore the advice of the Government Procurement Board several times? Is the board effective? I think one of the most important questions to be answered by this minister, by the Chief Minister and by this Labor-Greens government is: what else are they hiding? This is the second time in mere months that very serious issues with procurement under this government have been exposed.

Earlier this year, when the Campbell Primary School procurement scandal drew the attention of the Auditor-General and the Integrity Commissioner, I called for an audit of all ACT government procurements over the last five years. Let us not forget that every single member of the Labor-Greens government rejected that call. Even with the shocking revelations of these CIT contracts, there is still no commitment to take a whole-of-government review to find out what is actually happening. Only a few months ago, the Integrity Commissioner made startling statements that these types of probity issues in procurement are rarely a one-off and that these types of serious issues are more likely to be endemic.

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