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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4259 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

ACT Housing-Fire Safety Upgrades-Estimate of Cost to Rectify Deficiencies-Copy of table

Auditor-General's Report-"Financial Audits with years ending 30 June 2002"-Statement by Treasurer, Ted Quinlan, dated 11 December 2002.

MR HUMPHRIES: I seek leave to make a statement on the same matter.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: I have not had notice of this matter. The media apparently have and Mr Quinlan obviously had some. I have not, except in very general terms. Therefore, careful examination of what this report says will be required in the next few hours before tomorrow's meeting of the Assembly.

I view with some concern the suggestion that the $10 million paid from the Treasurer's Advance in June of this year to ACT Housing potentially amounts to an illegal payment. That is what I assume to be the effect of the findings in chapter 7 of this report, as I have briefly examined it. This will need careful examination, but I remind members that it was the making of an illegal payment which led to the fall of my predecessor as Chief Minister, Mrs Carnell. It was perfectly clear that there was no action on her part which contributed to the making of that illegal payment, but rather it was a fault that occurred within the agency she administered as ACT Treasurer at the time.

According to chapter 7 of the Auditor's report, the $10 million was transferred, and authorised for transfer by the Treasurer, on 14 June of this year, a date very close to the end of the financial year. I think we need to ask whether any reasonable person would take the view that a transfer of that magnitude could possibly be spent by ACT Housing in the space of two weeks before the end of the financial year. Spending $10 million in two weeks is a pretty tall order.

We also need to ask whether the transfer of $10 million at that late stage was perhaps designed to reduce the territory's operating result-an operating result which the Treasurer was insisting, until about that point in time, would be a deficit. He was almost banking on it being a deficit.

These are questions that need to be answered. I am not sure we can answer them on the brief view we have had of them today. But I put the government on notice that I am asking these questions, and I expect we will return to this issue when some time has been spent examining what this report is all about.

MS DUNDAS: I seek leave to make a short statement on the same matter.

Leave granted.

MS DUNDAS: As Mr Humphries has foreshadowed, we will probably be having further debate on this Auditor-General's report. I would like to bring members' attention to a question without notice I asked on this topic in August. I asked how this $10 million for fire safety was viewed as unforeseen, considering that the report on the need for the fire safety upgrades came out in June 2000.

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