Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4435 ..
Mr Quinlan: On that point of order, Mr Speaker: it might be untoward of me to do so, but, if I am to be accused, I seek your leniency in relation to what the opposition want to say because we may as well hear what they have to say. If, and only if, it is not the intention to follow a matter of public importance with a substantive motion and if the house is satisfied that it is not to be followed by a substantive motion, then, at least for my part, I am happy for the opposition to say what it wants to say, if that be possible.
MR SPEAKER: No matter how happy you might be about that, Mr Quinlan, I cannot condone a breach of the standing orders, notwithstanding the giggle you might get out of it.
MRS DUNNE: On what is available to us, Mr Speaker, admittedly at this early stage, Mr Quinlan has, in the words of the Auditor-General, misused the Treasurer's Advance and, even worse, the cabinet collectively appears to have endorsed that misuse. This goes to the very basics of the matter. The Financial Management Act is quite explicit, stating as it does in section 6:
No payment of public money shall be made otherwise than in accordance with an appropriation.
There is, of course, an out. This is to cover unforeseen urgent payments. To quote from yesterday's Hansard, Mr Quinlan said:
Under advice from Treasury to cabinet, the government applied $10 million of unexpended Treasurer's Advance to an urgent maintenance need in relation to fire safety within public housing.
To his credit, Mr Quinlan accepts responsibility for the misuse of the Treasurer's Advance, as he must do, but is he repentant for this misuse of the Treasurer's Advance? No, emphatically no, he is not. He stands in this place accused by the Auditor-General of misusing the Treasurer's Advance and what does he do? He plays the usual political card. The Treasurer is caught with his hand in the piggy bank and who does he blame? The former government, of course: "The Liberals forced me to misuse the Treasurer's Advance."Here are his words-
MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, "hand in the piggy bank"imputes stealing. Withdraw that.
MRS DUNNE: Okay, I withdraw the words "hand in the piggy bank". Mr Quinlan said:
The absence of anything like adequate fire safety in public housing could not have been foreseen until a Labor government came to government and had time to receive and assess relevant information.
Pull the other one! The Treasurer can do lots of things and blame the former government for lots of things, but we did not hold the pen while he signed the paper that was signed in misuse of the Treasurer's Advance. What was the time, by the way, that this remarkable epiphany came to this government? It was five minutes to financial midnight. Just as the clock was about to strike on the end of the financial year and write the bottom line indelibly in the ledger of history-and in the offices of Standard and Poor's-the piggy bank was smashed open and $10 million was extracted. More than half of the Treasurer's Advance of $18.6 million went in one grab. That was on 14 June. The department, according to the Auditor, received the money on 25 June, five days from financial midnight.