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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 1875 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

I look forward to examining the Government's response to the matters identified by Mr Tracey, not only in relation to the Bruce Stadium redevelopment but across the whole of the Government's financial activities. This is an issue that will be hanging over the Government until the Auditor-General reports or until further information becomes available. In short, I am putting the Government on notice. They must respect the role of the Assembly in supervising the appropriation of moneys in whatever form.

I must say, Mr Speaker, that Mr Stanhope has run a good case and has shown that the ACT now has the benefit of a genuine and constructive Opposition, but I cannot establish the level of intent on the evidence that we have. I would like to gather more evidence. The cloud of no confidence is still hovering. If the Auditor-General comes back with the knockout punch I will have no hesitation in supporting a no-confidence motion. In the meantime, I believe that the Chief Minister ought to be censured and I ask the Assembly to consider this amendment. Mr Speaker, I move:

Omit all words after "this Assembly", substitute the following words:

"censures the Chief Minister, Ms Carnell, MLA for her failure to ensure the requirements of the Financial Management Act 1996 were met in relation to the funding of the redevelopment of the Bruce Stadium.".

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (8.47): Mr Speaker, I am disappointed in the decision that Mr Rugendyke has taken. I am similarly disappointed in the decision of Mr Osborne in the present circumstances. I would like to wrap up and conclude the debate on some matters in relation to that. I will go straight to the issue that Mr Rugendyke has indicated is of significant concern to him, the so-called intent defence and whether we need to prove some actual intent on the part of the Chief Minister. That has been the major, if not the only, significant defence that has been sought to be raised today. Mr Rugendyke made his decision at the end of the day on the question of whether there was this so-called intent: Did the Government intend to break the law?

Mr Speaker, that is just a distraction that has been put around today by the Liberal Party. No-one on this side has said that Mrs Carnell has any criminal liability, because there is no criminal penalty or sanction within the Act. We have said and repeated that often. What is being said is that Mrs Carnell's Government broke a fundamental law that prohibits the expenditure of public money without the authorisation of the Assembly. What we are saying, Mr Speaker, is that section 6 of the Financial Management Act provides for an absolute liability. It does not require the formation of intent. It simply says, "No money shall be paid out without proper appropriation". The penalty for the breach is not a criminal penalty; it is not a criminal prosecution. It is a political penalty, one that can be imposed only by the Assembly. Having regard to the weight which others in this place put on this issue, particularly Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne, I draw attention to the leading case on the question of criminal intent or intent, He Kaw Teh v. The Queen, which was heard in the High Court in 1985. At this stage, all I can say is that I hope that the Auditor-General in his report on this matter, which we now all await before this matter can be finally concluded, will deal with the question of intent and the fact that it is an absolute matter.

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