Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 515 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
It believed the proposal was a goer, and it had the responsibility of managing this joint venture.
I believe it is still true to say that the potential presented by this proposal was very much a matter that needed to be worked through in the day-to-day working of the business. The fact that the proposal did not work out may not necessarily reflect on the parties who were involved in it or the way in which it was managed. There may have been other things that led to that. However, it is certainly a case of saying that, if there is not 100 per cent certainty, then 100 per cent ownership should not be taken of such ventures. We should avoid that risk and avoid the exposure of the ACT taxpayers. That has proven to be the case.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (5.23): First of all, I would agree with the inference in what the Leader of the Opposition said-that hindsight is certainly a precise science and that looking back is much easier and much more certain than looking forward.
However, Mr Humphries did refer to a strong and compelling case. I really believe that that strong and compelling case should have been challenged somewhat, because, in fact, that strong and compelling case was based upon some assumptions and those assumptions really did bear challenge. Some of the assumptions might have actually translated into memoranda of understanding between the quarry enterprise and the prospective customers. However, they did not, and in fact to a large extent the business was left hanging out on a limb.
Mr Humphries referred to Mr Berry. I believe Mr Berry was entitled, at that stage-although probably a little rash-to believe that the government, as a shareholder, had at least conducted some form of challenge, and he wanted to be reassured.
There is one other problem. As I said, in hindsight, there are some great holes in the venture, and they will be borne out. In fact, I can advise the Assembly that the Auditor-General has already determined to conduct an audit into the establishment of this particular enterprise, and I don't expect that audit report to make pretty reading.
The defrayal of risk by going in with a joint venture partner would have been good too. However, I also have to inform members, without being able to give specific details, that it is now apparent that the exposure of Totalcare, and therefore the exposure of the ACT government and the ACT taxpayer, is much larger than the exposure of the joint venture partner. This means that, although the joint venture partner was a 50 per cent partner in name, in effect that is not going to be the case.
MRS CROSS (5.26): Mr Speaker, I am not quite sure of the correct procedure in raising this matter. However, earlier, while we were debating Mr Pratt's motion, the Deputy Chief Minister yelled across to the Deputy Opposition Leader and called him an idiot.