Page 1715 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 May 2013

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Questions without notice

Cotter Dam—cost

MR HANSON: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, yesterday in the Assembly Mr Seselja asked you a question about the estimate of $145 million for the Cotter Dam extension project which was used extensively by your predecessor, Mr Stanhope, in the lead-up to the 2008 election. Chief Minister, why did you allow the $145 million figure to remain as the only cost mentioned in 2007 and 2008 as the cost of the expansion of the Cotter Dam?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. These issues have been raised extensively—indeed, in committee inquiries that I believe Mr Seselja took part in, and I answered those questions then. They have all been reported, and reported publicly, dating back to 2010.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Chief Minister, what was the estimate for the total project cost of the Cotter Dam expansion in 2007-08 and why wasn’t the community told that number at the time?

MS GALLAGHER: The total project cost for the enlarged Cotter Dam was $363 million. The initial estimate for the dam is what Mr Hanson refers to as the $145 million. I have been clear and on the record in 2010 when I said that we should have been clearer that this was an initial estimate and that that estimate would change once the total project costs became clear, in which case they were. That was and is on the record from 2010, Mr Hanson.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Seselja.

MR SESELJA: Minister, what advice was originally provided to the shareholders and the government about the cost of the Cotter Dam expansion? When was that advice provided?

MS GALLAGHER: What advice are you talking about, Mr Seselja? There was a range of steps in this project, as you well know. This has been the subject of detailed inquiry by relevant standing committees of the Assembly and by the ICRC. I refer the member back to those pieces of work.

Mr Hanson: Point of order, Madam Speaker. I ask your guidance on relevance in answering questions by ministers. Simply saying, “I have discussed this three years ago in a committee,” does not seem to me like an adequate response to this Assembly. If the minister is going to answer the question and be directly relevant, simply saying, “I have talked about this before in a committee,” would not to my mind be an adequate answer within the rules governing this place, particularly the standing orders.

MADAM SPEAKER: On the point of order, Mr Hanson, members are reminded that the standing orders say that the answer should be concise and directly relevant. But

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