Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4398 ..
MR SPEAKER (continuing):
It has also been drawn to my attention that the MPI contains words that may be critical of the character and conduct of the Treasurer, and should therefore be contained in a substantive motion. I do not believe this is the case, as the matter proposed merely poses the question of the legality of the use of the Treasurer's Advance. However, I will be monitoring the discussion to ensure that discussion does not transgress matters permitted by the standing orders or practices of the Assembly. I remind members of the practice of the Assembly that a charge against another member, or a reflection on his or her conduct, can only be done by way of a substantive motion which invites a distinct vote of the Assembly. Thank you members.
Questions without notice
Qualification of financial statements by Auditor-General
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, given the findings of the Auditor-General's Report No 7 of 2002, do you still believe, as you stated in this place on 30 June 1999, that a breach of section 6 of the Financial Management Act "cannot be brushed off lightly as a technicality"?
MR STANHOPE: I stand by everything I said, Mr Smyth, in relation to Bruce Stadium and the appalling fiasco that that was. There is nothing that I said in relation to Bruce Stadium and everything that it stands for in terms of the simple incompetence of both you and your government at the time that I would resile from.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, on what date did you become aware of the urgent need for the $10 million for the fire safety maintenance for public housing, and was this unexpected?
MR STANHOPE: I don't know the precise date. I presume that if I went through my diary in a detailed way I could probably pinpoint it to a date or a day somewhere in late May, or early June, this year.
Mr Smyth: Will you do that?
MR STANHOPE: I am most pleased to do that. But in the context of the issue and the urgency surrounding the issue, it essentially came to my attention as a result of the issue having been raised by the then head of the department of housing, Mr Alan Thompson. It was through Mr Thompson's representations that I became aware, as a member of cabinet, of issues in relation to this. It was as a result of a letter having been written by Mr Thompson to the then Under Treasurer, Mr Ronaldson, and I am happy to read from parts of that letter dated 30 May 2002. So that narrows down your substantive question somewhat.
On 30 May Mr Thompson, who was, as I say, the chief executive officer at the time responsible for housing, wrote to the then Under Treasurer, and we need to be mindful that these are two of the three most senior advisers in the government's service. Mr Thompson wrote: