The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:33): I want to talk about Labor in 3D—delusion, division and deception. After the federal election result on the weekend, Labor Party ministers and spin doctors have been doing the rounds seeking to portray the result in South Australia as in some way being a failure or a loss as a result of the leadership of Steven Marshall and the South Australian Liberals. Minister Koutsantonis, for example, has been tweeting and trying to indicate just that particular case.
It is hard to see, in the circumstances that minister Koutsantonis is talking about, where, prior to the election, he indicated that Labor would win the federal seat of Hindmarsh, and win it easily, when one looks at the facts of an 8 per cent swing to the Liberal Party and a victory for the Liberal Party candidate there, Matt Williams. When one looks at the aggregate figures, the biggest national swing to the Liberal Party in any state was in Tasmania, and South Australia and Victoria were close in terms of the second largest swings to the Coalition at the election. If those in the Labor Party want to continue with their own delusional interpretation of the results on Saturday, more strength to their arm, and let’s hope they continue to dictate strategy and campaign direction for the Labor Party as they lead up to the state election in March.
We have seen the division within the Labor Party, the forces of the right and the left now arcing up against each other as a result of what would appear to be the imminent demise of the Godfather of the right, Senator Don Farrell, as a result of being forced into a position of having to take the No. 2 position on the Senate ticket behind Senator Wong. The ramifications of that in terms of the division between the left and the right in the Labor Party will be felt for months to come. I think one of the lessons of the federal election, and one of the lessons for the state election, is clear: if parties such as the Labor Party are divided, disunited and cannot govern themselves, how on earth can the people trust them to govern either the nation or the state?
The other issue in the last couple of weeks has been the damning report by the Auditor-General of the government’s handling of the Adelaide Oval procurement process. The Auditor-General noted that a probity auditor was appointed after the commencement of the procurement process, and as a consequence key aspects of the procurement process were not reviewed by the probity auditor. He found that the preferred tenderer did not fully comply with the department’s information requirements when submitting their best and final offer. He found that the evaluation panel did not evaluate the offer, as provided for in the tender documents, as the project manager entered into direct negotiations with the preferred tenderer to agree to a final design and price.
Then minister Koutsantonis went on air to defend the position and said that the Auditor-General was quite happy, quoting him as saying that he had not identified any other matters that would indicate the public money made available and expended for the purposes of and in connection with the redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval, envisaged by the act, was not managed and used properly and efficiently, and he said, ‘That’s something Mr Lucas won’t tell your listeners.’
Minister Koutsantonis was left red faced when I was able to point out straight away on ABC that the minister had deliberately misquoted the Auditor-General’s Report and excluded the important lead-in to that particular quote. He excluded the following sentence:
With respect to term of reference 3, on the basis of information obtained and reviewed to date, except for the matters detailed in sections 422, 423 and 424 below…
That was the important proviso from the Auditor-General, and then for the next five or six pages the Auditor-General proceeded to outline all the very significant concerns he had about the procurement process. Minister Koutsantonis sought on the radio to read only part of the Auditor-General’s findings without actually including the key caveat the Auditor-General had included.
For those of us who are aware of the minister, who has been referred to by many as the ‘welsher from the west’, someone who is unprepared, even after now 12 years, to pay up on a gambling debt he has, it is not surprising that he would seek to be deceptive in relation to the Auditor-General’s findings on this most important issue.