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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 May 2007) . . Page.. 792 ..


Capital works

Alexander Maconochie Centre

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.18): I would like to follow up on the issues of governance and accountability that have been the subject of much discussion today, highlighted by the capital works matter that Mr Smyth just spoke about and the prison issued addressed by Mr Stefaniak. I made the comment yesterday, and I think it is very important to place it on the record, that there has been a change of direction in this territory by Mr Stanhope in terms of the regard given to this Assembly and to the issues of accountability. Mr Stanhope said today that the opposition here had suddenly woken up, having missed his capital works reports. In fact, there was a question going back as far as June of last year on which he signed off with the claim that these things are still being made available, which of course they are not.

I took the courteous approach—I am sure that does not always seem to deliver the best outcome here—of giving his office the benefit of knowing I wanted to meet and be briefed on why these capital works reports were not published. I put in that request on 26 March to Mr Stanhope’s office. What happened? First of all, a long-established custom in this place has been to deal with a departmental liaison officer, a custom that goes back to Mr Quinlan’s time when he was the Treasurer. It is a practice that Ian Wearing, when he ran my office, said was the normal practice prior to my election here. You would talk to the DLO and get a briefing. Suddenly, a political staffer has stepped into the equation and said, “You are not allowed to go through the DLO. You have to go through me.”

Mr Hargreaves: Not in my time as a DLO.

MR MULCAHY: It is now the practice of Mr Stanhope’s office. We have a situation where we have said, “All right, that is the way you want to run it, but we want the briefing. I want a briefing on capital works and I want a briefing on unencumbered cash and your treatment of it.” That was on 26 March. It is now 1 May. Do you think we have got a result? No, we have not. This new change of direction is something that I had not seen in—

Mr Hargreaves: Were you in town?

MR MULCAHY: I was around. We had not seen that in 2½ years. I suspect that Treasury people are a little embarrassed by it. I had found in the past that normally they were courteous and professional, that you received the information, that they were not political events, and that they would deal with the facts—usually, it was on a bill that was coming forward—and we would move on. Suddenly, the Chief Minister gets up in this place and says, “What is the opposition on about?” He has been extended the appropriate courtesies. I know that he has taken on the jobs of just about everybody on the other side and I know there have been dramas, but the fact of the matter is that, if you cannot handle the job in this place, do not stay in the job. The proper opportunities were extended and they have not been observed.

On another matter in the same vein, just before we went into the latest adjournment the government brought in amendments to the Financial Management Act and the


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