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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (16 April) . . Page.. 961 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

(4) the Committee report by 6 May 1996;

(5) if the Assembly is not sitting when the Committee has completed its inquiry, the Committee may send its report to the Speaker or, in the absence of the Speaker, to the Deputy Speaker, who is authorised to give directions for its printing and circulation;

(6) the Committee is authorised to release copies of its report, prior to the Speaker or Deputy Speaker authorising its printing and circulation and pursuant to embargo conditions and to persons to be determined by the Committee;

(7) the foregoing provisions of this resolution have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders.

Mr Speaker, what we have just heard seems to be a photocopy of the budget speech for health that we heard earlier on. It was not much different, except for the rebirth of the Board of Health and the attack on tradespeople at Woden Valley Hospital. It is all about blaming somebody else. Nothing has changed in relation to the matter. This is a new era for this Assembly. This is the first time a Minister has come back and admitted defeat in such a way. She has failed dismally on all scores. It is the first time the Assembly has seen a second Appropriation Bill. Because of the unprecedented situation, Assembly members will have to satisfy themselves that this is an appropriate move. Therefore, we need an additional estimates process.

A series of questions have to be answered. I think the first one that we need to look at is the issue of honesty, Mr Speaker. Mrs Carnell said in her speech:

Put simply, we are not prepared to adopt the practice that has been used in previous years of making artificial cash management arrangements to conceal what is a significant overrun in the health and community care budget.

Mr Speaker, I refer you to a statement of expenditure pursuant to subsection 47(2) of the Audit Act 1989, which is expenditure remaining as a final charge to the Treasurer's Advance, about the transfer of cash when budgets have overrun. It lists a whole range of administrative units and reasons why the money was moved around; and guess whom it was signed by? It added up to $10m and it was signed by Mr Walker and Mrs Carnell. Mrs Carnell claims that that is a dishonest approach. That is not a dishonest approach. It is quite appropriate for these matters to be referred to the Assembly and they could be dealt with in the course of debate in the Assembly if that were the wish of the Assembly. There is nothing secret about it at all. There have been no secrets kept in the past when there have been overruns. It has been dealt with in an appropriate way. Do not try to rechisel the tablets of stone. History is set in concrete. Just saying that it is different does not change it.

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