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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1382 ..


Debate resumed.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (3.49): Mr Speaker, I will be brief because this motion is nothing more than a trawl for documents. There is an element of high farce to this debate because, as we heard this morning, there is no evidence of impropriety. Right from the start we have been quite up front on this matter. There has been no lack of disclosure on it, so much so that we have had report No. 9 of the Auditor-General. The Auditor-General in his significant findings has made comments, the report has gone to Mr Quinlan's committee and Mr Quinlan's committee has chosen not to make comment.

Mr Speaker, the Auditor-General is now looking at this matter again. I note that many members have stood in this place today and said that this move is not a snub or that it does not reflect on what the Auditor-General is doing. The Auditor-General is doing very much what Mr Stanhope is asking for. Why is he doing it? He is doing it because Mr Quinlan asked. If Mr Stanhope has some doubt on what Mr Quinlan has asked, Mr Stanhope should take it up with Mr Quinlan. We on this side of the chamber certainly have a great deal of confidence in the Auditor-General and we believe that the process should be allowed to run. At the end of the process the Auditor-General will bring down another report and both sides will look at it, I am quite sure. That report itself will also be referred to Mr Quinlan's committee. The ability for all of that to be done in a procedurally correct way is there, Mr Speaker.

What should happen is that the Auditor-General should be allowed to do his job. What should not happen is that some members of the Assembly should not cast doubts upon what the Auditor-General is doing. Members opposite have stood and said, "We are not casting any doubts on what the Auditor-General is doing", but, at the same time, they are saying that we need to set up exactly the same sort of inquiry. Why? You can only surmise that it is political, Mr Speaker, that what we want to do here is stir the pot, throw another log on the fire. Mr Quinlan got up and said, "I have full faith in the Auditor-General". Let him get on with his job. Let him access these documents which he has. There is a significant number of documents and the Auditor-General will work his way through them so that he can come to a determination. That is what he is paid to do. That is what he is tasked with.

Mr Berry said that the example of a non-funded appropriation by Mr Connolly was irrelevant. It is a clear example of similar action under the Labor Party. Mr Speaker, when that happened under the Labor Party the then Opposition considered that it was fine, that it was appropriate, that it was a reasonable way to act under the Act then. It is still a reasonable way to act under the current Act, simply because the section that pertains to both was lifted, more or less, from one Act and put into the current Financial Management Act. Mr Speaker, it is just pure politics.

What will happen when we get the Auditor-General's report is that it will, of course, go to Mr Quinlan's committee for report. What they are doing by saying that they need to trawl through these documents, to get these boxes and boxes of documents, is that they do not trust the Auditor-General. Nobody here is making an accusation of fraud or

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