Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 24 November 2005) . . Page.. 4663 ..
parliamentary process. I have seen the way the government has expressed concern over the way Mr Seselja has performed in debates today, and I urge him to cooperate with this committee.
Mr Seselja: What a shameful speech.
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Seselja, or you will join Mrs Burke.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.10): What a shameful diatribe we just heard. On Tuesday in question time the Chief Minister inaccurately advised the Assembly that $128 million was appropriated for construction of the prison. Indeed, he attempted to give a lecture to three members of the opposition about our supposed lack of understanding of the budget process.
Mr Seselja: He was caught out, wasn’t he? There have been a few people caught out today.
MR MULCAHY: He was caught out. Today in question time he refused to correct his statement about the amount of funds appropriated for constructing the prison, so inaccurate information remains on the record. I point out to all members of this Assembly that, according to the 2005-2006 Appropriation Act, the total appropriation for capital works under the Department of Justice and Community Safety is $54.5 million. Clearly, if the capital works appropriation for the whole department is only $54½ million, it is not possible for $128 million to be appropriated for construction of the prison. It is nothing like what the Chief Minister asserts. The correct information is that the total appropriation over the past two years for construction of the prison is only $59.3 million—$10 million in 2004-05 and $49.3 million in 2005-06. This leaves the amount of $69.4 million still to be appropriated—it is not in a bucket, as Mr Stanhope attempts to try and understand economics—before the prison project can be fully funded by the government.
If this is an example of the financial prowess of Mr Stanhope, there is no way he is capable of holding the Treasury portfolio when he moves Mr Quinlan aside. He has revealed that he does not know what is in his own budget. Worse still, he does not even know the expenditure pattern of the territory’s largest capital works project, for which he has personal responsibility. Having been caught out and given the opportunity to put the record straight, he showed himself to be too frightened to correct his error. No doubt he is concerned at looking foolish in front of the Treasurer, since he is apparently planning to push him aside and create a new team to review government structures and spending in the ACT.
It is blindingly obvious to all but the Chief Minister that estimating the cost of a project is very different from actually appropriating funds. The budget contains information about the forward estimates. As I am sure Mr Quinlan understands, the forward estimates do not form part of the appropriation act. Mr Quinlan no doubt tried to tell the Chief Minister that he had made a whopping mistake but it appears that the Chief Minister was too stubborn to correct his error.