Page 326 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008

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better or more fully protected the public interest. We are genuinely at a loss as to what the Auditor-General means in her comment that this process did not protect the public interest. It is a genuine and heart-felt view and concern of all of my officers and officials in relation to this particular chapter of the report. We simply do not understand how the Auditor-General’s Office could believe that the public interest in relation to a proposal such as this would have been better met by going straight to auction and having the proponent, probably being the only bidder, bidding for land or a direct grant without those conditions. (Time expired.)

MR HANSON: Chief Minister, what actions will you take to ensure that government makes decisions on major projects with better information in the future?

MR STANHOPE: We take this report seriously. As I say, I have already received, as have the opposition and the convenor of the Greens, an invitation to meet with the audit office. I think the first thing I need to do and that my officials need to do is to meet with the Auditor-General so that we can fully understand the nature of her concerns.

Mr Hanson: But you were just rejecting it.

MR STANHOPE: Well, I need to fully understand what she means in terms of her finding. We accept the recommendations. We do. The recommendations are unremarkable and we accept them fully. In answer to your question, the first thing we have done is to accept the recommendations. The second thing we will do is that I will meet with the Auditor-General as soon as next week, I hope, to better understand the nature of her concerns. She might convince in a trice. It might come to me in an amazing flash what it was that she meant—why she feels that an option with approval in principle only, with a requirement for a full cost-benefit analysis, with a requirement for due diligence, with a requirement for the development application to be approved did not protect public interest.

I just cannot understand how it does not protect the public interest. I do not understand how that does not protect the public interest, but I am quite willing to be educated in relation to these things. We accept the recommendations and the recommendations will be acted on and fully implemented.

ACT Legal Aid—funding

MS LE COUTEUR: My question is to the Attorney-General. It relates to the level of funding for legal aid.

There is concern that if the ACT Legal Aid office’s workload continues at its current level, the funding allocated to it will run out well before the end of the financial year. It has been brought to our attention that ACT Legal Aid has spent two-thirds of its entire budget in the first three months of this financial year.

Can the Attorney-General inform the Assembly whether ACT Legal Aid has enough funding to continue to provide an adequate level of service for everyone who needs it for the rest of the financial year?

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