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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1351 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I would ask those who are considering an amendment to take into account the reasons which I have given in relation to this foreshadowed amendment. It makes a bit of sense. It gives everybody a bit of time to look at the documents and also ensures that this Assembly is able to hold the Government to account at the earliest possible moment.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (12.03): Mr Speaker, I have watched with some fascination from a distance as we deal with this Bruce Stadium issue, and I have often wondered what the fuss is about. I have been asking a series of questions. The first of those questions is: Was there fraud? I think we would all agree the answer is no. Was the Assembly misled? There has certainly been no indication of that. I am sure that if people thought they had been misled they would move very rapidly to move a motion about that. Was the approach unethical? No. Nobody has suggested that that is the case. Was it legal? A legal opinion is being sought on whether the Government specifically followed the letter of the law. There are many examples of this sort of approach being used in financial arrangements, not the least of which is the one for forests when Mr Wood and Mr Berry were in the Cabinet. Mr Humphries has now tabled the money on that. That is quite a bombshell, because it exposes that this is just pure politics. It is pure unadulterated politics.

Was there an attempt to avoid scrutiny? Is there an attempt to avoid scrutiny? No. That is what we have an Auditor-General for. The report of the Auditor-General went to the public accounts committee, and the public accounts committee tabled their report a couple of weeks ago, with no comment on this at all. But of course that was before Labor got a sense about this.

Was there an attempt to save the taxpayers money? Yes, there was. The Government did come into this arrangement for a reason - to try to avoid extra pressure on the budget. That is a very sensible thing to do. The Government could have got a loan of $28m. It could have borrowed the money in the capital appropriation. That was possible.

Was there a scandal? Members have used the word "scandal" quite regularly. If you use the Wayne Berry debating technique, then that will be effective. We know that Wayne Berry's debating technique is that if something is black you just keep repeating that it is white. You do not put any arguments. You just keep saying it over and over again. Next week I will have been listening to Wayne doing that for 10 years. No doubt Wayne Berry is quite capable of making some comments on my debating technique as well. I do not argue about that. That is the technique. It is pertinent that I mention Mr Berry here, because he was involved in a Cabinet that made a very similar, if not exactly the same, arrangement about dealing with money when it came to ACT forests. That is now on the table.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, at the risk of appearing oversensitive about this issue, I would draw your attention to the need to be relevant. What some other government did aeons ago - - -

Mr Hird: Turn it up. No point of order.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, if you would allow - - -

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