Page 3262 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 October 2022
to study. Why can’t this government do more to be inclusive, consider what other states and territories have done and promote all training providers, especially as independent sector providers take up the greater burden of training here in the ACT? It should be, after all, about supporting students and their choices.
In short, it is another disappointing budget area that promises much; but, when you dig down, it delivers very little, especially where it counts—in supporting students in their studies and supporting businesses in getting the best graduates for jobs, as they climb their way out of the pandemic and into a new normal.
MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (5.46): The CIT contracts saga continues, as we all await the outcome of the Integrity Commission’s investigation. What the Integrity Commissioner initially thought would be a four to six-week investigation very quickly grew to become an examination of six separate contracts, several contract variations and over one million documents. In the meantime the stood-down CEO is still being paid over $300,000 in taxpayers’ dollars for the foreseeable future.
The responsible minister, determined to hide behind process and the board, has refused to accept responsibility for the mismanagement that led to nearly $9 million of public funds going to contracts that are so unintelligible that, to this day, no-one has been able to tell me what they are actually for!
The minister failed to act when he asked the board chair about them in February 2021 and received a response that clearly raised more questions than it answered. Even the Chief Minister defended the contracts during the time that he held the skills portfolio in 2019. In fact the Chief Minister defended those contracts during his short tenure as the skills minister. Let none of us be deluded that he is clear of any of this dodginess.
Astonishingly, since then, the responsible minister has backed in Labor appointee Kate Lundy as chair of the board, even though she was deputy chair for a large portion of these irregular contracts—deputy chair of the board that oversaw millions and millions of taxpayers’ dollars going to one contractor, under contracts that are so opaque and so full of ill-jargon that no-one has been able to explain exactly what they are for!
We now see a blanket refusal from CIT to release documents under freedom of information, citing the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation, even on seemingly unrelated matters such as a completely separate series of contracts with CIT from 2016 to 2018 to KPMG, whilst the chair of the board was a KPMG partner! There is a clear conflict of interest on the table, which the public have no further scrutiny over because of the blanket refusal to provide any documents under FOI.
As we saw from the performance by the responsible minister and the new board chair, the deflecting and the shirking from answering questions—legitimate questions that are clearly within the public interest—confirm this rotten Labor-Greens government’s butt-covering and protecting each other, and that is always above the interests of the public.