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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1503 ..

Mr Berry: Who made the decision?

MS CARNELL: I will tell you. Let us just look at some of the interesting similarities between the loan in 1993 and the loan last year. First, both were provided by legislation under the investment powers conferred on the respective Treasurers. Secondly, both were for capital improvements. Thirdly, neither was specifically covered by a loan in an annual appropriation Bill. Fourthly, they both involved loans from the central financing agency of the ACT Government, known then as ACTBIT and now as the CFU. Fifthly, both loans were the result of Cabinet decisions, with the terms and conditions being determined by the respective Under Treasurers. The sixth and final similarity is that both were in accordance with the standard government and treasury practice at the time. So, there we have it, Mr Speaker, facts on the table as opposed to wild claims from those opposite and others who should have known better.

Unlike those opposite, this Government is not suggesting that there was any impropriety on the part of the former Labor Government. Indeed, despite this morning's behaviour, which was absolutely atrocious, at least some of us in this place have standards left, Mr Speaker. What I can say is that the loan in 1993 clearly demonstrates that in both cases the proper procedures were followed, the normal procedures of the time. Beyond any shadow of doubt, there was a precedent for the Bruce Stadium loan - one under a Labor government. Again, I do not expect the Labor Party or Mr Kaine to be particularly interested. They have already made up their minds on this issue and every other issue related to this Government. But I do think that it is important for the Assembly to realise that there is a precedent, and there may be others, Mr Speaker.

To answer Mr Hird's question directly, I can tell the Assembly that the Audit Act of 1989 provided for these kinds of transactions and these provisions were continued through into the Financial Management Act of 1996. Something else that may be interesting is that I am advised that no repayments have been made to date on the loan to ACT Forests. That is right, Mr Speaker, no repayments at all on a loan that was not appropriated. That is very interesting. Mr Speaker, you have to ask yourself, in light of that: What is the reason behind the so-called hysteria that those opposite have brought into this place about the loan transaction for Bruce which was fully disclosed and reported on several occasions? Again, Mr Speaker, I make the point: Why would those opposite and Mr Kaine go down the path of this almost semi-hysteria on something that has been fully reported and fully disclosed on several occasions? As I said earlier, Mr Speaker, it comes down to politics - pure, unadulterated, get the Chief Minister any way you can politics. We saw some of that this morning, Mr Speaker. This morning it was get the Attorney-General. If they cannot come up with a policy, and Mr Stanhope certainly showed that this afternoon, and if they cannot come up with a direction, with a vision, with even an idea in a budget speech, the only thing left for those opposite is to attack people individually.

Mr Speaker, I would like to finish by asking Mr Stanhope whether he, the Leader of the Opposition, has any credibility left on this issue. We have spent an awful lot of time and effort on this issue in the Assembly, but the budget is absolutely essential to the future of the ACT and the budget reply this afternoon from Mr Stanhope had not one idea in it at all. Mr Speaker, you have to ask once and for all what Mr Stanhope stands for. Obviously, nothing at all.

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