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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (14 October) . . Page.. 3183 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

So, the matter is not over yet. It is actually being looked at on a number of fronts. I understand also that, as part of the defensive manoeuvring that you, Chief Minister, and members of your Government did, you referred the matter to the Office of Financial Management. And Mr Mick Lilley is also doing a review of the Financial Management Act. Perhaps he is relevant to the work that the committee may do. So this motion by the committee, moved by its chairman, is quite reasonable and the protestations of the Minister really are just laughable.

MR QUINLAN (4.43), in reply: What has transpired here is typically what Mr Humphries does in this place. He consistently puts words in the mouths of others in a retrospective way -he puts incorrect slants on them. This is a consistent thing, Mr Humphries, that you do. You build straw men and then set out to destroy them. This is a regular occurrence in this place. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek your guidance. Is "grossly dishonest" unparliamentary?

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: I would avoid that term, Mr Quinlan.

MR QUINLAN: I will not use that term, but I will say that your style, Mr Humphries, does not shed much credit on you at all. I have observed you have consistently misinterpreted what people have said, placed incorrect emphasis on those things and then set out to debate against that. It does you no credit whatsoever. I can understand his need to try to attack this particular motion and me in particular. This inquiry, if you may recall, was initiated by Ms Tucker for which I think I - with tongue in cheek - thanked her roundly in May. At no time do I recall discussing the inadequacies of or blaming the inadequacies of the Financial Management Act.

What I did say at the time was that I was most perturbed. I said in this place and in estimates, through questions, that the Government set out through convoluted legal opinion to seek loopholes to bail out the Chief Minister at the time, and to bail out the Government as a whole. I referred to a provision of the Act - I think it is section 38 - which was designed to allow the administrators to handle short-term cash surpluses and to invest them to the benefit of the Territory. That was the only loophole that the QC engaged by the Government could find. At that stage we on this side of the house were still not debating the inadequacy of the Act. What we were debating, Mr Humphries, was the less than honest misuse and abuse of provisions of that Act that were perpetrated in this place. There was a quite ridiculous interpretation put upon the term "investment" and upon the terms of that Act.

As I said earlier, this inquiry was imposed upon the committee, which I chair, by Ms Tucker. I have, in the corridors, thanked her dearly for imposing that particular task upon the committee. I think I have actually used in the corridor terms like "Please get out of my life". I rather think that it is misleading in this place to say that it was the indignity that we displayed and that we, Labor, voted and argued and debated for this particular inquiry. I certainly did not because I did not particularly want it. I do not believe that it is an appropriate inquiry for a parliamentary committee, for a standing committee, to conduct.

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