Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4443 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
I raise these questions, as I raised these questions in August and I raised questions about the Treasurer's Advance in estimates, because I do think that it is important that the government be held to account for every dollar in the ACT's financial coffers. I hope that this debate will be the first step in greater clarification and greater accountability in relation to the Treasurer's Advance. I also hope that we will have some clear answers from the government about this situation. Of course, my main hope is that we have upgraded the fire safety standards for people living in ACT public housing.
This issue was identified in June 2000. According to a Canberra Times article I have from 23 June, the new fire safety program was to begin in August. It is now December. I hope that it is on its way and that the people living in ACT public housing units are living safely.
MR HUMPHRIES (5.07): In this debate, and before this debate, we have heard some pretty extraordinary comments from the Treasurer. The comments appear to amount to the formulation of a principle in government which, although it is obviously being heavily relied upon by the government, has not actually been spelt out particularly clearly. The formula goes something like this: the government is faced with a matter of some importance and some worthy and important area of public expenditure is required. The government sees that as an urgent need. The government therefore, in moving to address the urgent need, is entitled to breach the law or, to put it more kindly, is excused from obeying the law. It is entitled to breach the law or-
Mr Quinlan: I take a point of order.
MR HUMPHRIES: I will rephrase that.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please do.
MR HUMPHRIES: The government is entitled to misuse the Treasurer's Advance or, at least, is excused from observing the letter of the law when it comes to use of the Treasurer's Advance and may, according to the Auditor-General, be in breach of the law in so doing. Presumably, if it is in breach of the law, that is somehow exonerated because of the worthiness of the rationale for which the use has been made.
Mr Quinlan: I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I think that the Speaker made quite clear at the beginning of this debate what the ground rules would be.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: He did.
MR HUMPHRIES: And I have observed the ground rules.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Members, I remind you that the Speaker has made that perfectly clear. I would like all members to follow the rules. Those of you who have been speaking or are about to speak are well aware of what can be done with MPIs. Please be aware of that.
MR HUMPHRIES: I am certainly observing the Speaker's ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker.