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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2075 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The Chief Minister, in speaking to this motion, said, for instance, that if there were other issues that we wanted to know about Bruce, if there was further information we wanted that we did not have, we could simply ask questions in question time. I sought to do that today. I asked a question of the Chief Minister in question time today. She might like to review the answer she gave me, to the extent that she did. I asked her to give us some explanation of the impact of the fact that the Commonwealth will be seeking a commercial rent after 2009.

Ms Carnell: It's a stupid answer if you don't know what the rent is.

MR STANHOPE: It was not a question of whether or not there was an answer that you could usefully give. You actually asked the Speaker to declare the question out of order and you did not answer it at all. You did not even seek to answer it. You actively sought to avoid it. Here you are standing up now saying, "If there is anything else you want to know, just ask us". I asked in question time today and you refused to answer the question. There is a whole range of other issues that it would be appropriate for us to seek additional information on and we are not going to get it by asking questions in this place because you avoid them.

It is only appropriate that a select committee be given the opportunity to address these issues with officials so that we can have a detailed understanding of the issues which go to the need for this Assembly retrospectively to appropriate moneys to cover past mistakes of the Government. It is a nonsense to expect this Assembly simply to do that. It is just absurd. It is a ludicrous suggestion to expect that we would do that.

The points that Mr Kaine makes I endorse absolutely. Is the alleged $200,000 interest payment on a $20m loan or is it on the $10m that the papers that were revealed yesterday disclosed that we have taken from the CBA? What is the nature of the interest that you are claiming will be affected here?

And then there is the question of the date and the Chief Minister's argument about an inquiry holding up the budget until November. Everybody knows that that is patent nonsense. It is an absolute insult to suggest that it would delay the passage of the budget. It is just an insult to seriously suggest that. The select committee's reporting date of the first sitting day in November has a discretion in it. Perhaps the select committee, once formed, would choose to bring down a report within the next 10 days or so. It could be done that quickly if that is what they chose to do. The fact that there is a sitting day in November simply gives them an opportunity, a discretion, to take that time if they need it.

This is a very sensible motion, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. I can see no reason why the Assembly should be denied the opportunity of further investigation of this issue, particularly having regard to the history of the matter. It is just absurd to suggest that we should now tick off on retrospective appropriations simply because it suits the convenience of this Government at this time to rectify 18 months of mistakes.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (5.46): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, if I might respond briefly as well, since we are going to have a second speaker from the Government side.

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