Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 1769..
MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
Motion of Want of Confidence
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (10.32): Mr Speaker, I move:
That this Assembly no longer has confidence in the Chief Minister, Ms Carnell, MLA.
Mr Speaker, I rise today to address a simple notion: That the Chief Minister, in presiding over a government which has consistently broken the law in its management of the Bruce Stadium redevelopment, has lost the confidence of this parliament. It is a simple notion, but it goes to principles that are fundamental, not only to the operations of this Assembly, but also to the system of governance that is the basis of all contemporary Western democracies. Those principles, established more than 300 years ago, relate to the obligations of governments and Ministers. They are important principles which in this case have been so severely breached as to require the ultimate sanction this parliament can impose.
The fundamental principle that has been breached is the requirement that the Executive cannot spend the taxpayers' money without the approval of the parliament. This principle was established, as I say, over 300 years ago and has been explicitly adopted in the ACT in both the Self-Government Act - our constitution - and section 6 of the Financial Management Act. Section 6 is clearly expressed. It says:
No payment of public money shall be made otherwise than in accordance with an appropriation.
The words of this section are taken directly from section 83 of the Australian Constitution and are repeated in some form in almost all other Australian jurisdictions. In the explanatory memorandum issued when she introduced the Financial Management Bill, the Chief Minister wrote, in relation to section 6:
This clause provides authority for the fundamental proposition that public money should not be expended or legally committed in the absence of formal parliamentary authorisation.
According to Mrs Carnell, section 6 went to a "fundamental proposition": The expenditure of public money requires "formal parliamentary authorisation". Those were Mrs Carnell's own words to justify and explain her own legislation. This is the law that the Chief Minister has broken, her own law - a law Mr Osborne has described as