Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 May 2005) . . Page.. 1771 ..
figures for inclusion in the table? If that is the case, who supplied the figure of $37 million to the Victorian government and why did neither you nor your office check the veracity of these figures before you signed the letter to the federal Treasurer?
MR QUINLAN: I have to confess that the last part of that process was done in fairly short time because we were, as you would understand, struggling to get all of the states to agree. New South Wales and Western Australia wanted to fight on. The figures that we put forward were not the figures that were in the letter. The figures that were in the letter were the creation of the Victorian government.
I do not know that the actual numbers are particularly germane to the issue, because we were not dealing with Peter Costello by saying that we would give him $37 million, $26 million or something. It was about the pigheaded approach that he had taken: he had reinvented the intergovernmental agreement. He decided that an agreement to review taxes meant that we were going to abolish them—that was the be-all and end-all of it—and was quite clearly using it as an excuse.
I do not know what goes on in that mind, but it was of great concern to the states that this was a contrivance to try to destroy the intergovernmental agreement and, in fact, for the commonwealth to rein back on their control over GST funds and apply more control to the states and territories, even though the thing was initially introduced as a growth tax for the states. So the figures that the Victorians used, for whatever reason, were not the figures that they were given by our treasurers.
MR MULCAHY: I have a supplementary question for the Treasurer. Given that that is the case, have you communicated with the federal Treasurer or the federal government to explain what went wrong and provide the correct figures?
MR QUINLAN: Oh, yes, I do that all the time: rush off to Pete and say, “Whoops, I would like to explain myself, Pete!” As I tried to explain before, the actual numbers in the table are not germane to the issues at hand. We did this through officers.
Mr Mulcahy: Did they tell you how much you were willing to give back to the people of Canberra?
MR SPEAKER: Order! One question and one answer, please.
MR QUINLAN: There was a letter put together, signed at the eleventh hour. The letter came through and there were electronic signatures to get it together at the last—
Opposition members interjecting—
MR SPEAKER: Press on, Mr Quinlan.
MR QUINLAN: I was just waiting for the pathetic group giggle that the mob opposite gets going in question time. Give us a childish group giggle!
I do not consider that the numbers in that table make an iota of difference to Peter Costello or to the question at hand. Now that the issue has been raised, I am sure that my officers will have communicated that—if they have not, they will—through the heads of