Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4446 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
trust properties. How could you possibly have imagined that you could spend $10 million in the space of 16 days? How could you have possibly imagined that?
The world's greatest Treasurer would know that he did not need any money from 1 July because it was already in his budget from 1 July. How is it that we are expected to believe that he would need to spend $10 million in the space of just 16 days? Moreover, he isn't allowed to roll it over, as he suggested earlier in this debate. You cannot roll it over. There are many unanswered questions about this matter and the public accounts committee needs to look at those issues with some urgency.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member's time has expired.
MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services) (5.17): Firstly, let me comment on some of the remarks of Mr Humphries and Mrs Dunne, who took something of the same view. Mrs Dunne said that we could not spend that amount of money in that time and Mr Humphries has just said that. I won't argue the point; we could not spend that amount of money in that time.
But there were two things that needed to be done: firstly, that we take action and, secondly, that we be seen to take action, that it become absolutely apparent that we were doing something and we were fully committed to what we were doing. We judged that we needed to do it immediately, to be seen to act and to be seen to be making that commitment. I would have thought some of the lawyers round the place might have understood that.
Mr Humphries also made the point that we had three appropriation bills and we did not raise it in any of those. That is the case, but we didn't in those appropriation bills have the shock of receiving information. I am sure that you well remember, as I did then and do now, the comments that Mr Stanhope read out about the imperatives. You should ponder on that.
Ms Dundas talked about the MUPP. The MUPP was written in 1999. She has been wanting us to address it. We have been addressing it. She did not make any comments about the previous government and the two years or so that they had to address it. We have been doing that. Again, it does come back to that important change that occurred when we received that legal advice. I might add, for Ms Dundas, that work has begun. Quite a substantial amount of money has been spent on those items that are more quickly and more immediately able to be put into action. For example, I was at Stuart Flats and saw the new fire doors going in. That is something that can be done more quickly than some of the access issues that were also mentioned in the succession of audit reports.
I recall, as does Mr Quinlan, my comments at the time. I made perfectly clear-in fact, I shouted long and loud about it-that we were attending to the fire issues. There is no suggestion of trying to keep things quiet. I was very proud to make that claim, being in contrast, as it was, with previous administrations that were very mean about expending money in Housing.