Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3132..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
season. I put that offer to the VBA. I said, "Volunteers are busy preparing for the fire season. Senior officers are busy preparing for the fire season. Do we need to have this debate now? Can we simply put everything on hold until after the fire season?"But the VBA indicated to me that they would prefer for the issue to be worked through now. I agreed. That is what we are now doing.
MR PRATT: I have a supplementary question. Minister, why have you allowed this matter to drag on for more than a week? Why don't you have confidence in the bushfire and SES brigades, given that they have been managing these accounts for so many years?
MR CORBELL: This is not a matter of confidence or otherwise in the Volunteer Brigades Association and the individual brigades and units. I have full confidence that all volunteer brigades and SES units manage their funds sensibly and responsibly, and I have indicated that from day one. But the issue is that the Government Solicitor's Office has told me that those funds must be managed in accordance with the Financial Management Act, and they are not.
Mr Pratt: This is backside covering.
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt!
MR CORBELL: That is the advice from the government solicitor. Is Mr Pratt suggesting that I ignore advice from the Government Solicitor's Office that says that those funds are not being managed in the way that they should be under the Financial Management Act?
Mr Pratt: You can make a decision in two days on this, minister.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Pratt, I have called you to order twice and you have ignored me. I warn you.
MR CORBELL: Imagine, Mr Speaker, what would happen if I had that advice and I ignored it. The question from those opposite would be, "Why are you allowing this to occur in breach of the Financial Management Act?"That would be the question then. The responsible thing to do is to have regard to that advice, to recognise that it raises an issue, and to work through the issue in a collaborative way and address it to the satisfaction of the brigades and in satisfaction of the government's legal obligations. Those are the matters that we need to work through.
At the end of the day, as I have said before and I am very happy to put on the record in this place, funds raised by brigades will continue to be within the control of those brigades and used in accordance with the decisions that those brigades make in relation to those funds. There is no question at all that there will be any arrangement but that, but we need to ensure that the requirements of the Financial Management Act are adhered to and that the government is not in breach of its obligations under that act.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Minister for Police and Emergency