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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (12 November) . . Page.. 3431 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

accountant, who cannot find a treatment for the payment, and their lawyers have raised concerns about the transaction.

Chief Minister, you have just told the Assembly that both the Auditor-General and the Ombudsman will conduct investigations. Will you ensure that the stomp party transaction will be included in those investigations and ensure that students' funds are not being misused?

MR STANHOPE: I am more than happy to do that. I will repeat, for the sake of the record, that I am aware of the concerns that are abroad in the community. I am aware of the allegation that has been made. It is for the university to defend itself. The government does not manage-

Mr Humphries: It's for you to investigate.

MR STANHOPE: Certainly. Just for the sake of the record and for some balance, I am making the point that I am happy to ensure that the further inquiry that Mr Smyth has drawn attention to be pursued. I have no issue with that at all.

I just wanted to say for the sake of the record that I have had a discussion with the vice chancellor, Professor Dean, and I have received a communication from him. Professor Dean, in his conversation with me, sought to give his absolute assurance that neither he nor the university is aware of any wrongdoing or illegality.

I want to make it clear that that is the position of the university. As I say, I cannot speak for them. It is not for me to defend them, and I am happy to accept that these issues be fully investigated. This is now a matter of such public note that it is in everybody's interests-perhaps, most importantly, the university's interests-that it be cleared up absolutely. I am happy to see that the issues around stomp are fully explored, Mr Smyth. I will ensure that that is done.

Neighbourhood Watch

MS DUNDAS: My question is to the minister for police, Mr Quinlan. Minister, I have received a number of letters from Neighbourhood Watch groups which fear that they will be forced to cease operating because of the insurance crisis. Considering that the government underspent its 2001-02 crime prevention budget by $600,000, will it allocate some of these unspent funds to Neighbourhood Watch groups so they can continue to operate despite the higher insurance premiums?

MR QUINLAN: I have not received any approaches on this issue, but if we were to consider something like that we would, I think, responsibly have to consider lots of other groups as well. If you went through and looked at one group and then another group and yet another group singularly affected by the insurance crisis, you could make a fairly sound case for paying their insurance. If I receive a formal approach, I will take that approach on its merits, but it will be evaluated within the context of so many others which are equally affected, so many others which in their own way make a contribution to the community and are also battling because of insurance premiums. Certainly, it is a difficult issue.

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