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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2074 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

An Appropriation Bill has now been presented to us for approximately $24.1m for Bruce Stadium and $850,000 for CanDeliver. There was no doubt in my mind until the Chief Minister just spoke that it was seeking retrospective appropriation for money already spent. She has now told us that that is not quite true because it includes $2.5m that has not yet been spent. If it has not yet been spent, why is it not being attached to the Appropriation Bill for 1999-2000, which would be the normal thing to do? Add $2.5m to that and then seek retrospective approval only for that which has been spent without appropriation. I can understand why the Opposition has some questions about it.

Of course, the current Appropriation Bill would have been more explicit if, in paragraph (2) of sections 3, 4 and 5 it had in each case the amplifying words added to the second statement "and is to provide legal authority for expenditure already incurred". That would have removed the doubt Mr Quinlan is raising, that is, whether passing it authorises the Government to spend another $24.1m. The Chief Minister says no, but I can understand that it is a legitimate concern.

The other element about this matter is that the Chief Minister says that this appropriation is required now so that a temporary loan from the Commonwealth Bank of $20m can be retired on 15 July. Of course, that is the first any of us knew that there was such a loan. Indeed, as I pointed out during the debate yesterday, the piece of propaganda that the Government gave to selected media persons only on the Tuesday night said that there was a $10.3m Commonwealth Bank loan; not $20m, $10.3m. If it was only $10.3m on Tuesday night, how did it get to be $20m today? And is it indeed $20m, or $24m, or $24.1m? Just what is the extent of the loan that the Government now needs this approval to retire? So, we come back to the old question that we are still not sure, I think, that we have all the facts on the table that would allow us to debate this new Appropriation Bill with confidence that the outcome will be not only what the Government is seeking, but also to the satisfaction of the other members of the Assembly.

To summarise, I agree with the process. I think the Government is right, the Chief Minister is right, in seeking this retrospective appropriation because I do not see how else the expenditure can be legitimised. In making such a request of the Assembly, we do need to know that all of the facts are on the table and that it is fully explained. I am not certain that the explanation so far has alleviated all of the concerns that people might have.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.42): Just to reiterate the points that have been made, I think that it would be curious in the extreme to expect the Assembly simply to tick an additional appropriation in relation to retrospective payments. In terms of the substance of the debate that we have had about Bruce Stadium - the fact that we are here seeking to redress a most serious mistake made by this Government - it really is just a bit beyond the pale for the Government in this place to stand up and say that they want us to take this proposal on faith and trust and not allow any scrutiny at all of the proposal. It is simply nonsense to expect, in light of the paucity of information that has been provided to members in relation to Bruce Stadium, to expect that we would tick this appropriation without any inquiry or any opportunity to address these issues with officials.

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