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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 1853 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (5.41): Mr Speaker, I want to start by trying to find some common ground between the Government and the Opposition over this motion. It might seem a strange notion to try to do that, but I think that in fact the level of disagreement between us is not as great as some might pretend that it is. The Opposition says that the spending of public moneys must be authorised by parliament. We agree. The Opposition says that there are a number of ways of parliament authorising spending, and they particularly talk about an Appropriation Bill. I think that they acknowledge that there are other ways in the Financial Management Act for parliaments to authorise the spending of money. We agree.

The Opposition says that the Government has failed to put Bruce expenditure under a heading of parliamentary authorised expenditure, at least initially, and thus broke the law. Mr Speaker, we agree, with regret but not reluctantly, that we did indeed break the law. The Government did break the law in the way in which it handled this process. The Government says that this breach of the Financial Management Act was inadvertent. Some members of the Opposition have said that it was deliberate, but they have not put any evidence forward to support the proposition that it was deliberate, except for supposition, except for the argument Mr Quinlan used when he said, "Mrs Carnell is involved with everything that goes on in Canberra. She must have known what was going on. She must have deliberately set out to break the Financial Management Act".

Mr Speaker, on this particular issue - and I divert slightly for a moment here - I would ask members to consider this question: What motivation would the Government have for deliberately wanting to breach the Financial Management Act, particularly section 38?

Mr Hargreaves: There was an election on, to hide a stuff-up.

MR HUMPHRIES: The use of section 38 of the Financial Management Act did not remove any requirement for disclosure, because it was still necessary for the Government to put on the table all the records, all the accounts, all the audit statements and so on of what had gone on in respect of this particular proposal. So we escaped no level of scrutiny by using section 38 as opposed to a line in the Appropriation Bill. So why is it that we would set out deliberately to break section 38 of the Financial Management Act? I think if we are being accused of a crime here - and the Chief Minister is being accused particularly of a specific crime - and they cannot prove any intent on her part, at the very least those charging her should indicate some motive. But we have heard no plausible explanation of a motive.

Indeed, Mr Speaker, why would we deliberately have gone about not using a guideline? Guidelines are not tabled on the floor of the Assembly. By failing to use a guideline, we were not avoiding having to table some document. We would not have had to table it anyway, even if we had executed the guideline at the appropriate point. So what is the reason? The fact is that there is no plausible reason why the Government would avoid using some other device than section 38.

There was a difference about whether the Chief Minister herself broke the law or whether it was broken by her department and she bears some responsibility for that under the notion of ministerial responsibility. I have yet to hear anybody give a reason or

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