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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3762 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, of the seven suggestions from the report there are two in which the Auditor-General required prompt action, and one is the refining or replacing of the existing computer system. It is hardly a matter of the government having mismanaged that the computer system needs to be replaced; in fact, we have made significant progress during the year towards the replacement of the entire ACTAX system. The other suggestion was for a prompt review of current staffing requirements.

I do not know how, from these suggestions, you can say that there is an immediate need to overhaul the government's attitude towards this or that we have seriously mismanaged payroll tax assessment and collections. Again, these attacks look nice in the headlines you might try to grab, but they do a disservice to the public servants who administer the system and they also do not accurately represent what the Auditor-General actually said.

Finally, Mr Quinlan's question said that the increase in payroll tax take has been entirely the product of Commonwealth government outsourcing. When we have a promise from these people, when we come to a federal election in November of this year-or whenever that is going to be-they are going to be up there saying that the ACT community has benefited enormously from the fact that we have had a huge increase in economic activity flowing from Commonwealth government outsourcing in the ACT. Somehow, I doubt it.

We will take Ted, the friend of the federal government, and put him to one side today. The fact is that payroll tax in this territory is basically well administered. There is some room for improvement, which the Auditor has pointed to. But the alarmist things said by the opposition simply cannot be justified.

Royal Canberra Hospital implosion

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. It is now more than four years since the tragedy of the bungled Royal Canberra Hospital implosion which cost the life of a young girl. Chief Minister, what consideration, if any, have you given to your government's liability to pay compensation to the family of Katie Bender and, indeed, the other individuals who suffered? Have you paid the promised compensation-and I emphasise the word "promised"-and if not, why not?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, something tells me there is an election in the air when politicians choose to play on such issues for the purposes of political gain.

Mr Kaine: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the Chief Minister seems to be determined to cast some aspersions on my reasons for asking this question. I think that is out of order.

Mr Berry: Just answer the question.

Mr Moore: There is no personal imputation.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Kaine has asked his question. He does not need help from all you other people.

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