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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1341 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

a $9m deficiency in the cash balance. If that sort of deficiency was found in the cash balance of a private corporation there would be dire consequences, but the Government obscured it by borrowing $9m on one day and repaying it the next.

That was $9m. We still do not know what interest was paid. We still do not know whether the Commonwealth Bank attached any other conditions to making that money available overnight. Was it a straight borrowing transaction? Was it $9m borrowed at X per cent interest, end of transaction? I very much doubt it. What other strings were attached, particularly as since then, according to the Chief Minister, other interim financing arrangements have been put in place with the Commonwealth Bank? What interim financing arrangements? How much have we borrowed? What has it cost? What was the collateral put up by the Government to get this loan? How much in fact have we borrowed?

Even as recently as last week the Chief Minister avoided answering the question of how much we have borrowed from the Commonwealth Bank. She has the effrontery to come here today and say this is transparent; that everybody knows. Nobody knows, and it is about time we found out. Amongst all of that is the question that I adverted to before. What collateral deals has the Government done with the Commonwealth Bank, other than simply to borrow money from them? The Under Treasurer went public and said, "This might be an equity and loan transaction". Might be? Is it? What equity? What consideration has the ACT Government agreed to make available to the Commonwealth Bank other than just interest? Time will tell, Mr Speaker, but the Chief Minister will not - and again her claim of transparency is completely blown out the window.

The private sector financing is a myth. Originally there was supposed to be $12.3m public money and $15m private sector money. The Chief Minister was talking about that even a few weeks ago, at the same time she was denying that the project had blown out beyond the $27m. Where is the private sector money? How much private sector money has in fact gone into this project? The answer seems to be zero, because the Chief Minister is now negotiating to borrow all of the money in excess of the $12.3m budgeted. We have to cover the whole cost. Is that fact or is it not? If it is not, will the Chief Minister please stand up and be transparent and tell us?

Then there is the funny company structure we have set up, this ersatz company structure. It is a $27m government project, and we have three interrelated companies to manage it. Why? We do not even know who the principals in these companies are, except that we do know that Mr Lilley and Ms Ford are the only shareholders and directors of one of them. Who are the figures in the other two? I am beginning to wonder whether anybody associated with this project, on being appointed, is issued with a pair of white shoes. Finally, what are the arrangements with the tenants?

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think it is perfectly okay to make very strongly worded references to the Government in this debate, but I want to put to the Assembly that people like the Under Treasurer and Ms Ford have served not just this Government but previous governments in this place with distinction and do not deserve the sort of reference that Mr Kaine has just made to them.

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