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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3527 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

This is not something that can be achieved without the expenditure of very significant funds by the government, funds that were not appropriated and funds that will not be appropriated. The minister had no capacity to negotiate with this person for the payment of funds, compensation or repayment of expenses incurred at all. He had no capacity or authority to do it.

Mrs Cross: I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker: standing order 62-irrelevant and tedious repetition. Earlier you ruled something out of order that was raised in relation to Mr Corbell in the previous potential censure, a motion that was passed here and that he ignored. How is it that the Chief Minister talking about something that is irrelevant to this motion is acceptable but what was said before was not? It is irrelevant to this motion.

MR SPEAKER: I am not quite sure of the point. Are you saying that what the Chief Minister is saying is not relevant?

Mrs Cross: I am saying that what he is saying is irrelevant specific to this motion.

MR SPEAKER: I thought it was relevant to the debate. There has been a wide-ranging debate on this issue. That has been the history of this place. Chief Minister, I have already mentioned in this place that I would like members to remain relevant to the subject of the debate, and I would ask you to do so as well.

MR STANHOPE: I will draw my comments to a conclusion. (Extension of time granted.) The history of this matter, the nature of this matter and the substance of this matter do not support a censure motion. It is another reflection of the extent to which, certainly, the opposition is seeking some political advantage.

The opposition, when in government, sold a piece of land, as they were entitled to do. It was purchased by a significant operator in this town. They extended significant funds to developing a proposal, as they were entitled to, in relation to that purchase. They paid their money; they paid good money. The money was paid into the central funds of the ACT government. It was expended. It was probably expended on health or education or those other issues that are priority issues for this government.

You somehow want us to grab that back out of consolidated revenue. You want the minister to go off and negotiate compensation to a good, upstanding company-a large employer, a major player in this town-to expend in good faith hundreds of thousands of dollars. They paid nearly three quarters of a million dollars for a block of land, and you want us to go to them and say, "Will you give it back? If we give you your money back, will you walk away? Or, if we actually pay you half a million dollars, will you call it quits?"

This is what you are asking us to do. This is how you are asking us to treat business in this town on the basis of decisions made by you. That is the fundamental decision. You ask the minister to go away and expend moneys that he has no authority to expend. You ask him to try and find money that was not appropriated. You had no capacity to undertake the negotiations you asked of him, because no funds had been appropriated, nor will they be appropriated.

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