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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1383 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

saying that we have been misled or that what has been done is unethical or illegal. We are getting clarification on the legal stance. We believe that we have acted within the law. We believe that we have acted within the intent of the law. But, as we found out in several cases recently - I bring to the memory of members the excise case whereby the States and Territories thought for a long time that they were working exactly to the law and the High Court revealed that it did not believe that that was so and the system was changed - some minor tweaking of the Financial Management Act may need to be done. Should there be a need for clarification, I am sure that the Auditor-General will recommend that. I am sure that the legal advice, if necessary, will point that out.

What we have here is an Assembly that is so often saying that the process is wrong. They are very keen on that. If they do not like decisions, they go after the process. Here, they are going after the man who is going after the process. What they are saying is that the Auditor-General is not up to the job. They are wrong. When the Auditor-General brings out a report condemning the Government or pointing out deficiencies in the Government they are the first to use it.

Mr Berry: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is on a matter that was raised earlier. The Minister just said that the Opposition had said that the Auditor-General was not up to his job. We have never said that. In fact, on the matter being raised earlier, I withdrew any such suggestion.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, that is true. Mr Berry did withdraw any suggestion that the attack was on the Auditor-General. As I recall, he said that the attack was on the Government, which he can get away with.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have said several times already that they have all stood and said that they are not attacking the Auditor-General. If they are not attacking the Auditor-General, prove it by letting the Auditor-General get on with his job. The Auditor-General has requested the majority of these documents. The Auditor-General will go through these documents. He is the one who is best qualified to report - - -

Mr Stanhope: We can read, too, Brendan.

MR SMYTH: You can read. I can read. I can read them until I have read them all, but it does not mean that I will understand them. Clearly, from your question at question time, you read the budget and you did not understand it, as the Chief Minister so artfully pointed out. You can read until you are blue in the face but if you do not understand what it means, if you are not qualified to make a judgment, you have to leave it to the professionals. The Auditor-General is the one who is empowered by the Assembly to make these decisions. He should be allowed to - - -

Mr Stanhope: What are you trying to hide, Brendan?

MR SMYTH: I am not trying to hide anything. What we have here is a trawl. It is just a big trawl through the Government's files. They are casting a huge net, a wide net, to get everything to look through. These things have been looked at. They have been - - -

Mr Stanhope: What is the secret?

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