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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 1819 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Mr Deputy Speaker, what we have here is three learned advisers proving that there were at least two illegal acts. They disagree on the third. What remains is the inescapable truth that two illegal acts were perpetrated. It is also obvious that the measures taken regarding the guidelines were designed to make legal these illegal acts. One has to question the integrity of this approach. How can anyone have confidence that those charged with making our laws will abide by them and not seek ways to go back and make legal previously illegal acts? That is where one of the questions of confidence comes from.

Mr Deputy Speaker, why do we have to do this now? Why not wait until the entire story is in? The reason is that the legal advisers have all shown beyond reasonable doubt that acts were perpetrated illegally. We need no further proof. The Auditor-General will not come back and say there was no illegality. He will come back with mountains of information on the size of the problem to be fixed. He may well expose more illegal possibilities. All three advisers pointed to the Auckland Harbour Board case ruled on by the Privy Council, showing that, as with this Treasurer's actions, payment without appropriation is illegal.

There is a penalty to be paid when an illegal act is performed. Normally, as our good former policemen will attest, it is up to the courts to find guilt or innocence and then to pass sentence if the case if proven. In this case there is no court. We are it. The Financial Management Act contains no provisions for sanctions, charging before the courts, and thus we must perform that role. The Opposition is saying that beyond reasonable doubt the Treasurer has acted illegally. We are saying that judgment must be made before passage of the Appropriation Act gets a chance of retrospectively making these acts legal. We are saying that the Assembly no longer has confidence in the Chief Minister. The Opposition is also saying that the matter must be fixed, and it will be once the Auditor-General has delivered his report. It matters not which colour government addresses the problems at that time, but it matters much right now whether this Assembly will condone those actions by rejecting a want-of-confidence motion.

Mr Deputy Speaker, whether the Chief Minister is allowed to treat the law of this Assembly and the people of the ACT with contempt is in the hands of Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne. I have noted Mr Rugendyke's need for proof beyond reasonable doubt and I put this proposition. (Extension of time granted) Mr Deputy Speaker, I will just reiterate a little. I have noted Mr Rugendyke's need for proof beyond reasonable doubt, so let me put this scenario to you. Consider Mr Tracey as the defence counsel, consider Mr Sackar as the prosecuting counsel, and consider Professor Richardson as counsel assisting the judge. The defence counsel and the prosecuting counsel are both agreed that at least two illegal acts were performed. It is only now for the judge to record that that is so and then to get on and pass sentence.

MR CORNWELL (3.27): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. As you know, it is rather unusual for me to step down from the Speaker's chair and address the Assembly. However, I do this on occasions of great moment, and I believe that this is one of them. The granting of confidence to, or the withdrawal of confidence from, the Executive - and let us make no mistake; we are talking about the Executive, not the Chief Minister - is perhaps the most important single power of any legislature. Here, as elsewhere, this results in these motions taking precedence, as you are aware, over all other matters.

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