Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 April 2008) . . Page.. 1192 ..
Questions without notice
Australian Defence Force Academy
MR SESELJA: My question is to the Chief Minister. The Canberra community has recently become aware that the federal government was seriously considering the closure of ADFA. When did you first become aware that the federal government was considering the sale of ADFA?
MR STANHOPE: It is not at all clear that the federal government is considering the closure of ADFA. There have been rumours and suggestions, not supported by the federal government, that the federal government—as part of the efficiencies it is seeking as a result of the Liberal Party-induced inflation; they have been in the context of that—is considering the closure of ADFA. I know of no federal government serious consideration of any proposal to close ADFA. It has never been confirmed. It certainly has not been denied.
In the context of speculation around budgets, it is a usual government response to neither confirm nor deny speculation of the sort that we have seen in relation to ADFA. Revenue is a path that never ends. Oppositions do this all the time. They set a hare running by saying, “Is it true that the government proposes to close ADFA?” The government had never considered it. It probably never crossed or entered its mind. But the hare is set running and the government is then asked, “Confirm or deny. If it’s not true, just deny it.” The government then responds. The next day the opposition sets another hare running: “Is it true that you’re doing this or you’re doing that?” It makes a complete mockery of the budget process.
In response to the specific question, I am not involved in the construction of the federal government’s budget. I am certainly deeply involved in the construction of the ACT government’s budget at the moment. But I am not involved in the federal government’s budget. I am not privy to the detail of the federal government’s budget—nor is the person who started the rumour about ADFA. But I am aware of the rumour.
I am conscious of the position that governments traditionally adopt in relation to confirming or denying wild rumours and speculation about any budget. It happens here. We engage in the same process in the context of ACT government budgets. I am constantly being asked, “Treasurer, do you propose to cut taxes in the next budget?” Mr Mulcahy has asked me this very question. I have no doubt that, when we get to his matter of the day, the question will be posed, perhaps more rhetorically again, and I will refuse to confirm or deny the government’s intentions in relation to what is or is not in the budget, which I look forward very much to delivering in four weeks time.
I am aware of rumours about the closure of ADFA, which I do not believe. I am aware of rumours about the abandonment of the Defence Science Technology Organisation, which I do not believe. I am aware of a whole range of rumours that I have heard which I do not believe. In a pre-budget context, with budgets to be delivered in four weeks time, this sort of rumour—innuendo, scuttlebutt, suggestion and essentially wild speculation—will continue. It is not particularly profitable. It is anxiety inducing. At the end of the day we just have to wait and see what the detail of the budget is.