Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2092 ..
Well, estimates has to give way to everything else, so we had a chop and change approach where we would have a minister for half a day here or two or three hours there and then come back in a week’s time. The exception was the Minister for Health, who really did sit there. The result was that we were able to have comprehensive questioning on health because she was there for a day and she was prepared to answer questions for a day. She may not have liked it, but she was there and she put in the time. I think that this year in the estimates process we probably had a better hearing and a better analysis of the health budget than we have had for a considerable period of time. Considering we were talking about $800 million, nearly a third of the whole budget, I think it is appropriate that we had a reasonable amount of time on health.
There are three or four standout issues that come out of the budget and the budget estimates process. The principal issue is the gas-fired power plant and data centre, as it was planned for Tuggeranong—let us not call it Hume under any circumstances or Macarthur because it is in the district of Tuggeranong. As I said before, we have the extraordinary instance where the minister and his officials were called back because the officials eventually confessed to the chair of the estimates committee that they had misled the committee and that that needed to be revisited.
The whole saga was fairly interesting because it took a little bit of persuasion in the committee to actually convince the Labor members that they would be better off having a recall rather than having a big spray about it later on. But they really did not do themselves much of a service, and obviously they went back to caucus and had to say to the Chief Minister when he came back from overseas: “Gee, Jon, we are sorry we could not actually hold it off. You really do have to come back.”
So the Chief Minister came out with all guns blazing, and I am sorry to say that, in trying to show just how tough he was, on yet another occasion he misled the estimates committee. He actually said—
Mr Stanhope: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mrs Dunne has just alleged that I misled the Assembly through the estimates committee. That is simply not acceptable. It is unparliamentary and I ask that it be withdrawn.
MR SPEAKER: Did you suggest—
MRS DUNNE: I did use the word “mislead”, Mr Speaker. How about I withdraw the word “mislead” and give an exposition of what happened and members can make up their own minds?
Mr Mulcahy: On the point of order, Mr Speaker, I think that Mrs Dunne either withdraws the statement or she does not.
MRS DUNNE: I did.
Mr Mulcahy: But you cannot qualify a withdrawal of an unparliamentary term.
MRS DUNNE: I did. I said “I withdraw”.