Page 1803 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022
What we have seen, and Mr Parton has very well illustrated some of them, is weasel words in these contracts which make it really difficult to determine exactly what they are delivering. We are here today talking in a “spatial and temporal scale” about “complex systems thinking”, but how does that make the CIT better? How does that make the outcomes for students better? It does not appear that it has. What have been the deliverables from this nearly $9 million worth of contracts? How have the CEO and the executive improved their performance? We have yet to see any mention of that. What transformation work has taken place and how has that benefited staff, students and the ACT community? Where is the value for money for the taxpayer?
We heard from the minister that he wrote in March 2021, yet there was still another very large contract signed this year. What does that say about the CIT’s regard for the minister’s questions? What does that say about their complete disdain for being questioned about this contract? What does it say that they have not really given a satisfactory answer to that letter, let alone have signed another enormous contract without demonstrating the improvement, the value, the deliverables and the outcomes for staff, students, employers and the general ACT community?
This $8.87 million, nearly $9 million, of taxpayers’ money does not meet community expectations. It does not pass the pub test. In the debate we have had so far today, Madam Speaker, you know that you have hit a nerve with the government when they fail to address the substantive issue, they go to the personal attack—today it was on Ms Lee—and they go to the process. They do not talk about the individual ministerial responsibility under our Westminster system. They do not talk much about the substance of the issue itself.
This is a very serious matter, and if it is happening here does that mean it is happening elsewhere as well? It is something that needs to be taken seriously, and that means that the minister must be held accountable. We expect that; the public expect that. That is why I commend Ms Lee’s motion to the Assembly today.
MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (11.19), in reply: I will go to Mr Steel’s comments first. On the one hand, he is the minister responsible. On the other hand, he talks about the CIT governance yet again—the talking point to lay the groundwork to ensure that he can escape responsibility: “I have a policy responsibility but not for what is going on here.”
So what is this minister’s role when it comes to the CIT, and what has transpired here? At the very least, the public would and should expect that he will safeguard ACT taxpayer funds and that he will do everything in his power to make sure that all decisions that are made by CIT are done with the highest levels of integrity, the highest levels of transparency and the highest levels of probity. Yet, when it came to it, we got weasel words. He said, “No, no; I don’t have responsibility for that part of it.” This minister is not taking this issue seriously. Even today we see him trying to escape liability and responsibility, and that is an enormous slap in the face for the hardworking CIT teachers, for the students and for Canberra taxpayers.
The Chief Minister’s comments about a “sanctimonious lecture” would be absolutely laughable if this was not such a serious issue. We are talking about a man who comes