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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2330 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, it is not about frustrating the process; it is about having a process. It is about having a process to examine an appropriation. The Chief Minister makes the claim that we do not need an estimates committee because we can just talk to her or we can talk to James Service. There is a big difference between having a private meeting with the Chief Minister or a representative of CTEC or whoever it may be and being able to ask questions and seek information in that sort of forum and putting information in the public arena and having the opportunity to question that information as part of a proposal to expend public moneys. That is what we are talking about here. We are talking about the expenditure of $10m of the Canberra ratepayers' money. It is not something that should be dealt with in private meetings between the Chief Minister and other members of this place or in private meetings between the chairman of CTEC and other members of this place. It is a process that should be dealt with in an open and public way.

One of the fundamental notions of responsible government, of accountable government, is that you have public forums to examine proposals to expend public moneys, and one of those most important processes is the Estimates Committee. It just staggers me, Mr Speaker, that the Chief Minister still does not understand the fundamental issue that we have gone through over the Bruce Stadium redevelopment saga. She still fundamentally misses the point about how appropriations work and the role of the parliament in scrutinising the expenditure of public moneys. That is all we are asking for and it is what we are entitled to have in this place. It is what the community should expect of us in this place - to properly examine the finances, to properly examine proposals for expenditure. It is a reasonable proposition, it is a sensible proposition and it is an accountable proposition. For all of those reasons, we should be supporting it today.

MR SPEAKER: I remind members that we have 10 minutes before the time put forward by Mr Berry expires.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.05): I will be very brief. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for that indication. I want to respond to a couple of points that have been made. Initially, I think it is necessary to respond to the claims made loudly and clearly by Mr Humphries in particular in relation to the reasons for producing the appropriation and doing business in this way. It was in the interests of accountability and transparency. Mr Humphries made great play of the need to respond to the community's demands that its actions be accountable and that they be transparent. In making that claim, of course, Mr Humphries was conceding that the Government had not in the past acted in that way, particularly in relation to Bruce Stadium, where it had expended millions of dollars of money in a non-accountable and non-transparent way and, as it transpired, unlawfully.

A couple of points need to be responded to specifically. As Mr Berry has said, there is a superficial attraction to the V8 car race. There is no doubt about that. There are aspects of the proposal that are quite attractive and they are not to be dismissed out of hand. They are actually to be looked at and studied. But no proposal involving the expenditure of such significant amounts of public moneys should be agreed to or could be agreed to without proper scrutiny by an Assembly that does not have the facts available to government.

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