Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2544 ..
and the bid reverts. The bids weren't substantially different-$250,000 over about $38 million.
So the question is: when the cheque wasn't presented or when the cheque bounced, why wasn't the process followed? That's what we're trying to get to here. What was the purpose, Mr Speaker, of continuing to negotiate with a bidder who hadn't met your own terms and conditions of the agreement that you put out, the established norms?
I think the unprecedented thing here is that we have gone so far and so hard to extend from 11 to 27 June, by 16 days, the ability to give somebody the chance to comply with something that they've failed to do-that they've failed to do against the established norm, against the terms and conditions published in your own document, and against what is the standard principle that underlies having an auction every time an auction is held.
Was there opportunity for the other bidders given to negotiate? No, there wasn't. So why are we doing it with somebody who is in default? I suspect what Mr Corbell is doing through the GDA, through his portfolio, is actually undermining the auction process. How will the industry, and in particular interstate bidders, have any faith or confidence in dealing with the ACT government or an instrumentality of the ACT government when, if you default on the conditions, you can continue in the process?
This isn't lay-by; this isn't land sale by lay-by, pay a little bit now and negotiate; use it a bit later; come back to me later; you put some money in and we'll have it on hold for you until you find the cash. Auction is auction. It's a well-known process; it's a well-defined process. The unprecedented thing here is that the government goes and gets legal advice to cover itself because it hasn't followed its own process.
What we have to send, I think, is a clear and distinct message. It came up in the Estimates Committee that particularly the GDA would issue documents for auctions and at the very last minute would actually change the terms and conditions, which makes it very hard for industry to put in sound bids. We, as a territory, through this government, may well be forgoing revenue, losing taxpayers potential revenue, because the process they're running is not suited, is not defined and is not being adhered to.
Mr Speaker, I think the important thing here is that this advice is made available to members. Ms Tucker's amendment is certainly agreeable to the opposition. The advice can be held by the clerk; those that wish to see it may go and view it. That's an appropriate way to do it.
But what we need to know is the basis for the government breaking the norm; for the government doing the unprecedented thing here. The government is potentially just covering its own legal behind because it's broken its own terms and conditions and the established norm in the auction process. This minister needs to be accountable for what he has allowed to continue to happen.
MR CORBELL(Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.22): Mr Speaker, speaking to Ms Tucker's amendment: the government is prepared to support Ms Tucker's amendment because it is a way through, but only on the basis that members