Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1710 ..
Centre of excellence
MS DUNDAS: My question is to the Treasurer, and I understand that he may have had some notice of what I am about to ask him. Treasurer, the papers tabled in Appropriation Bill (No 3) 2002-2003 show that $4.3 million from the Treasurer's Advance was used for the purchase of land for the ACT node of the national ICT centre of excellence. Considering that $10 million was appropriated from the 2002-03 budget for the same purpose, can you please explain how this expenditure of Treasurer's Advance was unforeseen?
MR QUINLAN: I have to say that this question and the press release that went out relating to it were quite unnecessary. All that had to be done to start with was just to ask a question of my office.
The government has budgeted for $10 million for the centre of excellence-that is $10 million in land. That $10 million worth of land will be provided-in case there is a further deep question, that is an approximate figure-for the establishment of the centre of excellence. At the time the budget was put together the probable site was the ROCKS site near Barry Drive and Marcus Clarke Street. Of course, other sites were considered. Since that time the Commonwealth has put on the market some land that it no longer has a need for but had reserved at the time of self-government, and that included part of section 61 on London Circuit just virtually across Marcus Clarke Street from Llewellyn Hall. That will be the site for the centre of excellence.
It is necessary to spend $4.3 million with the Commonwealth to buy that land. We are actually buying other land from the Commonwealth. I would say to this house that we should not have to; that should effectively be ACT crown land. Nevertheless, this is necessary in order that it not be sold to the private sector, with the creation of a centre of excellence being alienated by the whole section. I am sure that that will become the hub of a business cluster in a place where there is room to expand and accommodate further businesses.
From this point on you could say that instead of being $10 million worth of land out of pocket, the ACT government will be $51/2 million worth of land out of pocket and $41/2 million worth of cash out of pocket. It is purely only a case of changing the form of asset. It is not an additional $4 million going to the centre of excellence.
Really, as I said, the question could have been resolved with just a simple question to my office as opposed to trying to build it up into some form of scandal-that is the tone of the press release-which I think is quite inappropriate.
MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. I will again ask: how was this unforeseen, considering that the 2002-03 budget clearly indicated that there was going to be land purchased for the ICT, and the supplementary budget papers for Appropriation Bill No 3 clearly indicated that the $4.3 million was for the purchase of land for the ICT?
MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, maybe I did not answer the first question very well.