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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2320 ..

Mr Quinlan interjecting-

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Quinlan has made this fairly serious accusation-he is being flippant about it at the moment-and he does not indicate how he backs it up. What exactly is he saying? Is he saying that the government manipulated the figures that were given to the Auditor-General? Mr Quinlan, are you referring to the ministers or are you referring to the public servants?

Mr Quinlan: It would be hard to tell-I was not exactly there.

MR HUMPHRIES: Again, by now becoming vague, Mr Quinlan is casting an aspersion on public servants-many of whom are still here-in the days from which that figure was derived. They were loyal servants of the government of the day. I think it is extremely unfortunate.

Mr Speaker, if Mr Quinlan is suggesting that the books in departments, which are the basis on which the audits are conduced, have been fiddled, he should say so and he should say how. If he is suggesting that the information that the Auditor had in front of him was misread, then he is making an attack on the Auditor-General because the Auditor said that, on the figures available to him, there was a clear conclusion of a $344 million operating loss.

Mr Speaker, rather than make vague and unsustained accusations, Mr Quinlan would be better off putting his money where his mouth is and putting the facts on the table. I think until he does that, the aspersions cast on a number of public servants will remain.

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. I thank the Treasurer for his response. Is the Treasurer aware of any possible grounds for Mr Quinlan's attack on the reliability of the Auditor-General?

MR HUMPHRIES: No, I am not, Mr Speaker. I think Mr Quinlan needs to show what the grounds for the attack are at this point.

MR SPEAKER: That is an expression of opinion.

MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed, Mr Speaker and, as I am saying, I think it is a very poor opinion.

Ministerial responsibility

MR QUINLAN: My question is to the minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts. Remember, Minister, that the Chief Minister has assured us, as recently as this question time, that the lessons of the past have been learnt and the events of the past have been superseded. He does not know how many times he has told us that. In light of the Auditor-General's reminder that ministers have the responsibility for overall performance of their departments. How do you reconcile two very recent events that took place in the estimates hearings? First, a question on the source of a claim that Impulse Airlines had received an offer of $10 million, a claim that turned out to be false, was not answered. Second, a question as to the source of the misinformation distributed to the media by your office and related to changing estimates for Gungahlin Drive also was not

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