Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4417 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

(a) in excess of the amount specifically appropriated for expenditure of that kind; or

(b) not provided for by any appropriation;

may be authorised by the Treasurer by instrument ...

I do not have the full section here.

Mr Smyth: So you are not going to do anything?

MR STANHOPE: We are. The Treasurer indicated in his statement yesterday when he stood and drew attention to this issue that it is a serious issue; there is no denying that. It is quite a serious issue. There is a clear ambiguity in the wording of section 8 of the Financial Management Act and the government is already committed to addressing that ambiguity so that there is a very clear understanding around the operations of section 18 and the circumstances in which the Treasurer's Advance might be appropriately used.

But I have to say, and I do not resile from it and will not move away from it for one second, that in circumstances where this government was made aware of a serious issue, an urgent issue involving fire safety arrangements for multiunit complexes in the ACT, where it was drawn to our attention within a few months of coming to government and it was clear that the previous government knew about it but had done nothing to address or rectify it, this government took a decision, and took it instantly, that it would not tolerate such a situation, particularly in light of advice received from the ACT Government Solicitor that we would almost certainly be liable were any event to occur.

That is what the ACT Government Solicitor advised us. He gave a detailed opinion on negligence and the circumstances in which duty of care applied, whether there was a duty of care in circumstances in which it could be regarded that the liability of a landlord-in this case, this government-would be generated, and, certainly, this government acted. We did, and I am proud of the fact that we did. I am proud of the fact that we took the steps that we did. I am proud of the fact that we as a government, having been confronted with the fact that public housing tenants in the ACT were potentially at risk and at extra risk as a result of their homes not satisfying Australian building standards, and as a responsible landlord, took the immediate steps that we took. We took urgent and immediate action to begin the process of resolving to render these homes safe for a significant number of Canberrans.

It is interesting to me that the Auditor-General places some objective analysis of his own on what is urgent and the opposition do the same. It is interesting to me that the opposition, having had two years notice in government of this urgent situation, did nothing. They did not see or understand the moral imperative that we are dealing with here. They are not at all concerned with the moral imperative that we are dealing with here, the fact that potentially hundreds of ACT residents were living in accommodation that was not safe, of which they had notice and on which the Australian Government Solicitor subsequently advised that action should be taken or the ACT government would be not only morally responsible, which we always were, but also legally responsible.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .