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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4444 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

There are a number of problems with this proposition in this case. The first problem is that I think that the pretext on which it is based is a flimsy pretext. There isn't the time in the course of this debate to discuss the process that was used by ACT Housing to reach the conclusion and properly alert government to a problem with the fire safety standards in ACT Housing properties.

But I will say this much: even if you accept the proposition that the government has put today in the course of question time that somehow the former Liberal government was clearly on notice that there was a problem in ACT Housing and that it was derelict in its duty in not moving swiftly to deal with that problem, and I do not accept that proposition, the question then is raised as to why, on coming to office in November 2001, the new ACT government, faced with what was apparently an urgent problem, failed not once, not twice, but three times to include in an appropriation bill after it came to government provision for this supposedly urgent problem.

There were two special appropriations in the course of the 2001-02 financial year and then, of course, there was the budget itself at the end of 2001-02, none of which made arrangements for expansion in that financial year for there to be coverage or addressing of this particular problem. Why was that so? It would suggest to a casual observer that the problem did not have the urgency within the ACT administration that the government has now attempted to suggest that it had; that, in fact, this problem was a problem that had been identified as requiring some attention but did not have the burning urgency, if you will excuse the pun, that the minister and his colleagues are attempting to suggest that it did have. If it did have that urgency, why wasn't it addressed in this government's life.

Apparently, what gave it that urgency was advice of some sort, advice which has not been tabled in this place, received about the end of May or beginning of June of this year-we have not seen it, so we do not know exactly when; there has been much vagueness about that-that you must act on this matter now, that you need to act swiftly and decisively on this matter. I have two points to make about that. First of all, clearly the former government did not receive that advice that there was an urgent need-

Mr Wood: Your government or ours?

MR HUMPHRIES: Our government, the former government, did not receive that advice to indicate that it had a level of urgency that required immediate action.

Mr Wood: I think that's right.

MR HUMPHRIES: I am grateful to the minister for housing for clearing that up.

Mr Wood: You had the audit reports.

MR HUMPHRIES: We had a report indicating that there was a problem in Housing-at least, I accept your advice that that was the case. I cannot recall such an audit, but I accept your advice that there was. The point is that what triggered urgent action was a piece of advice that the present government received in May or June of this year-

Mr Wood: In May.

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