Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4441 ..
MR QUINLAN: He gave us that opinion. I do not agree particularly with that, but I certainly respect that opinion. Certainly, the fact that it would have been a misuse was not in our minds back then. This seemed to be a logical decision. You have funds left over from a year, you have an urgent need and you address that. You then, according to the act, advise the Assembly. The report has been tabled. I made a tabling speech. I mentioned the element in the tabling speech and you guys were asleep. I am sorry about that.
Mr Smyth: But we assumed you did it legally.
MR QUINLAN: For you to assume it is okay is all right; for me to assume it is okay is somehow a criminal offence. I think that is about the standard that you are applying at the moment.
Mr Smyth: It is a feeble defence, Ted.
MR QUINLAN: I don't think so. Mr Speaker, I rather believe that, if this is viewed in the context of the time and not with the hindsight of a particular florid term used by the Auditor, you will find that the MPI does not stand up.
MS DUNDAS (4.58): The use of the Treasurer's Advance has become a vexed issue. I think that this debate is showing that perhaps neither the Liberal Party nor the ALP have the capability to manage the Treasurer's Advance. Perhaps we seriously need to reform the processes that govern the expenditure of moneys from the Treasurer's Advance. At the moment, the Financial Management Act states quite clearly that the requirement for expenditure under the Treasurer's Advance is to be unforeseen at the time the budget was handed down. Because there is so little accountability for spending under the Treasurer's Advance, it is vital that the rules are followed.
It was on 28 August that I asked the Treasurer about an apparent misuse of the Treasurer's Advance. My question was:
Considering that the multiunit property plan released by ACT Housing in June 2000 commented that fire safety upgrades of the Currong apartments are required, why was the expenditure from the Treasurer's Advance of $10 million on fire safety ... in the 2001-02 financial year viewed as unforeseen?
At the time, the Treasurer, I guess, fudged his response by claiming that the question should have been put to the previous government. Further, he said that it was a problem that should have been funded in the previous budget. It appears to me that this omission made it quite clear that he was aware that the expenditure was not unforeseen. I have not heard anything today in question time that has cleared that up for me.
The ACT Housing multiunit property plan signed off by Barbara Norman, the executive director of ACT Housing, on 1 June 2000 states on page 66, that, although the Currong apartments are structurally sound, the units are below currently accepted fire standards and do not meet Building Code of Australia requirements in respect of fire escape distance, fire isolation of stairs, fire separation path distances between floors, stretcher lifts and WC suites.