Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 142 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
Mr Hargreaves was clearly wrong about this, and he knows it. Last week I asked that he apologise. To the best of my knowledge, he has failed to do this. I will finish now by calling on the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Stanhope, to show some leadership and insist that Mr Hargreaves apologise unreservedly to the ACT parking inspectors, to this Government and to the people of Canberra and express his regret for his appalling dishonesty in this matter.
Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, there was a clear imputation from the Minister that a member was dishonest. That should be withdrawn forthwith.
Mr Humphries: It is pretty accurate, is it not?
MR SPEAKER: The point has been taken. I uphold that point. I think that Mr Hargreaves may have been misleading, but I am not sure that he was dishonest, Minister.
MR SMYTH: I withdraw.
Mr Berry: Mr Humphries interjected with the same imputation in different words. Would you ask him to withdraw as well?
MR SPEAKER: I did not hear that.
Mr Humphries: If Mr Berry is worried about it, I will withdraw as well.
MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Justice and Community Safety. The Minister recently stated in a radio interview that the Territory would have a privately constructed and, presumably, operated prison because the Government did not wish to fund the project. Will the Minister accept that over the long term the Territory will eventually pay the capital cost of the facility, regardless of whether it is privately funded or government funded? Will he further concede that, given the Territory's AAA credit rating, the cost of funding through government borrowing - that is, the interest payable - is likely to be lower than that available to a private builder and therefore in the long term the facility would be cheaper if the Government constructed and funded it?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Quinlan raises a whole series of questions about the financing of a private prison in the ACT. I have indicated, as he quite correctly suggests, that it is the Government's view that the capital cost ought to be met by the private sector. We are still working through the way in which we might do this and indeed whether we can do it in this way, but that is certainly our initial view of the matter. There are a number of reasons for taking that point of view. First of all, even if what he suggests in his question were true and it were cheaper for the ACT to borrow the money than for a private sector organisation to do so, we would still need either to find the money in our capital works program or to borrow the money upon beginning work on this project.