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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 1828 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

be asked? What superhuman expectation can this Assembly demand of her or any other Minister? Remember this: Nothing has been lost to the public through the error in paperwork.

Let me repeat the simple fact at the core of this issue. Even though the rules relating to section 38 investments were not adequately observed, at all times the Chief Minister, and indeed all the officials, believed that they had been. Mr Speaker, I tabled the documents before. I ask that those papers be circulated. Even if the Assembly is minded to insist that such investments be disallowed, such a conclusion does nothing to replace the Chief Minister's genuine and justifiable belief that the Government had power to decide what it did.

Mr Stanhope hangs his argument on the strength of section 6 of the Financial Management Act, yet his presentation of even this issue is simply another of his misrepresentations. He, with his legal training, more than anybody should certainly know that and understand that. Section 6 does not control the power to make investments under section 38.

I also heard an argument that somehow Bruce was not an investment. I think that was clarified earlier by the Chief Minister. Of course, when we put an extension on a house we make an investment. We expect a capital gain on that. It is a normal investment, in the normal use of the word, as Mr Stefaniak pointed out very clearly. The Government made no appropriation in any Bill for the investment, because no appropriation was needed. The legal authority required from the parliament - nobody is debating the requirement for authority from the parliament - came from the Financial Management Act. The Financial Management Act will be the authority tomorrow for public servants to be paid.

If indeed there is a change of government, the new Chief Minister will not have an Appropriation Act in place in order to spend the money. Mrs Carnell mentioned some $700m that would not be authorised through a specific appropriation but supported by an enactment of this house, the Financial Management Act.

Justice requires that the case Mr Stanhope has presented be rejected. Mr Stanhope, who draws attention to a professed belief in civil liberties, has brought a case without evidence and without arguments to connect the accused to the mistakes. He has conceived his attempt for the basest political reasons and he has prepared his ground amongst the media, the public and the crossbench MLAs with a gross campaign of distortion and hypocrisy. He knows all this to be true. Mr Stanhope has done all in his power, and has manipulated the media with all his available energy, to present an illusion of Ministers deliberately breaking obvious laws. Why? Why would the Treasurer deliberately set out to flout a law, when it was entirely within her power to issue the guideline, had she been properly advised? It was just simply so easy. Think about the words of paragraph 38(1)(e). Look at the unfettered power it gives the Minister. Why would a Treasurer deliberately set out with any ill intent to evade such a requirement? It just does not make sense.

Mr Hargreaves: Because there was an election on.

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