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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4434 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Mr Speaker, what we are discussing this afternoon goes to the very heart of public administration and to ministerial responsibility. We know that the Auditor has said that the Treasurer misused the Treasurer's Advance. We know that the legality of the Treasurer's actions are questioned. Even worse, we know that the cabinet sanctioned that misuse.

While every one of us in this place holds the public trust, those opposite on the government benches are invested with it in even greater measure. Their job is to govern wisely, prudently and according to law-according to law, Mr Speaker-and from what we have been able to fathom thus far the Treasurer has failed those criteria quite comprehensively.

Ms Tucker: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask for your clarification. As I understood your ruling, this debate was not to seriously impugn or it became the subject of a substantive motion. Is that correct, because what I am hearing is doing exactly that? Mrs Dunne said that the Treasurer broke the law.

MR SPEAKER: No, that is not what she said

Ms Tucker: She is implying that.

MR SPEAKER: I think that the imputation is pretty clear, Mrs Dunne, so I would ask you to withdraw the imputation.

MRS DUNNE: I withdraw any imputation. I was very mindful of your advice at the beginning of question time and I will do my utmost, Mr Speaker, to remain within that advice.

The Treasurer has been unwise, but we cannot punish that lack of wisdom. He has been imprudent, and all we can do is criticise that lapse. But it could be found that he acted outside the law. That law is very specific and very precise and that would be another matter altogether. At one level, it would raise serious questions about the Treasurer's judgment and, at another level, it would raise questions as to whether the Treasurer should remain in the great office he currently holds, an office which is endowed quite munificently with public trust. On what is available at this admittedly early stage, Mr Quinlan is clearly in breach of the Financial Management Act.

Ms Tucker: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention, in particular, to-

MR SPEAKER: Resume your seat, Ms Tucker. I think the clear imputation was that Mr Quinlan had breached the Financial Management Act. I warned against that at the outset and I would ask you for the second time to withdraw any imputation and discontinue the practice.

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