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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (14 October) . . Page.. 3199 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

The fact is that Mr Stanhope did not call another meeting until two weeks ago, but now requires this Assembly to authorise the payment of public money because he has not done his job. That is basically what we are doing; we are authorising the payment of just under $2,000 of public money for another eight months. For what reason? It is because the committee has not done its job in the timeframe it set for itself. No-one else set it; the committee set it for itself. We are now to have an extension because there have been no meetings.

This situation is very different from the situation for a standing committee, as has been said, as the members of a standing committee are paid all the time for the quite significant amount of work they do and any extension sought does not mean the authorisation of the expenditure of new public money, whereas this does. We may have had some issues with the extension of time sought by Mr Quinlan in the previous debate, but we were not, as an Assembly, authorising the payment of extra money. This time we are and when we do that we have to ask why. I have to say that we have not been told why, apart from the fact that Mr Stanhope has done a lot of reading or research. The taxpayers supposedly paid him to do that, which is an unusual approach.

Mr Speaker, this issue is really important because the Assembly has set up a lot more select committees in the term of this Government and we have to look at this as a precedent. If select committees become, as they have once or twice before, very long term, the amount required in new dollars is significant. Therefore, we have to take responsibility as an Assembly for the payment of those dollars. Mr Speaker, when members vote on this motion they have to understand that they are authorising the expenditure of public money and they have to ensure that that authorisation is for the right reason. It is not because a member has not got around to doing the job he was paid to do or to allow the member to play politics. He is totally allowed to do that, but not at the expense of the taxpayer.

MR RUGENDYKE (5.35): I have listened intently to this debate. My ears really pricked up when Mr Humphries mentioned that I had attempted to amend the original motion to send the work of this select committee to an existing committee. Let me just quote the Hansard of 6 May:

I am simply seeking to refer the matter to the Chief Minister's Committee, which is the appropriate committee to look at these matters, rather than forming a completely new select committee for a reason I am yet to fathom.

Mr Speaker, I remain with that thought. I am yet to fathom why we allowed this important matter to go to such a useless committee, a select committee that sat on its backside with its hands beneath its buttocks for 51/2 months and did nothing. The chairman of this wonderful select committee has given us a great dissertation about the number of people the committee wants to interview - pages and pages of them.

Mr Smyth: "Gunna" Stanhope.

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