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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1201 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I understand fully how in this place we could make that sort of mistake; that we could from time to time transpose our words. I have done it myself. I have done it in relation to this particular issue. I have in this particular issue transposed "lease" with "block". I have done it myself.

What I have not done, though, is create and develop an absolute fiction; I have not built a house on shifting sand; I have not insisted time after time that the reason that I thought there were three leases, the reason that the Government entered into the arrangement with Mr Whitcombe, was that he brought to the table something of value, namely, he brought an authority over three leases, over a property - over three blocks even. I have not insisted time and time again that the only reason that I entered, as the Government did, into an exclusive arrangement with Mr Whitcombe was that he had authority over certain pieces of land.

We asked on what basis you came to the conclusion that Mr Whitcombe had authority over these three blocks. On what basis did you, as a government, come to the conclusion that you were prepared to expend significant amounts of ratepayers' money on a development? I notice in the papers that we have received, pursuant to the FOI request, information that the land packages were valued at $150,000; that land and housing packages were to start at half a million dollars. I notice from the preliminary agreement that it was anticipated there would be 300 blocks. This is a very significant development we are talking about here. We are talking about a development worth potentially $150m. It is legitimate for us to ask on what basis you, as the Government, came to the conclusion that Mr Whitcombe brought something of value to the table. You told us that you came to that conclusion on the basis that you saw the documents. On 19 May the Chief Minister said:

It came to the Government's notice ... that these leases were not in the hands of the Boltons - even though they are physically in their hands; they still actually have the leases. They were handed back in, I think, 1991. That information came to the Government last Friday.

That would have been 15 May. The Chief Minister also said:

Mr Whitcombe believed that he brought to this agreement all three leases; he did actually have the three leases in his hand, Mr Speaker. Unfortunately, this has proven not to be the case.

Mr Humphries said the same on 28 May. He said it quite specifically. Mr Humphries said that Mr Whitcombe brought in the leases to the blocks and put them on the Chief Minister's table. I will quote what Mr Humphries said.

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