Tuesday 30 August 2005

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I thank the member for Huon for proposing this motion to note this report by the Auditor?General about the TT?Line. Of course it concentrated quite a bit on the role of the board but what interested me in Mr Blake's report and his 42 recommendations was his criticism of the board for not seeking independent advice on critical decisions.

This refers to decisions on the Spirit III but it could also apply to other important decisions by the board and I refer here to decisions taken over the purchase of the three Spirit ferries. It seemed to me, Mr President, that a board entrusted with spending millions of dollars of Tasmanian taxpayers' money should be at pains to seek the best independent advice on their critical decisions.

Mr Harriss - They could have rung Stan, could they not.

Mr FINCH - Stan who?

Mr Harriss - Your mate.

Mr FINCH - Whether the TT?Line board sought sufficient independent advice over the purchase process is not for me to judge, nor do I have the expertise in shipbroking to say whether or not the purchase procedures were flawed, as some have alleged.

Mr Parkinson - We thought you were an expert.

Mr FINCH - I simply ask the questions. I did not make any allegations. There has been examination of the processes that were followed in the acquisition of the three Spirits and the consultation process used to finalise selected options. I hope the lessons learnt will form part of a basis for future ship deals, Mr President. I would like to be confident that future sales and purchases of TT?Line vessels are totally above any criticism by parts of the shipbroking industry, by the Auditor?General or in fact by anyone else, and so, I am sure, would Tasmanian taxpayers.

Tasmanian taxpayers want more transparency on every front and they want to be absolutely satisfied when the three Spirits are sold and replaced, if they are, that the whole process is open and that the prices paid or received are the best possible.

Mr Parkinson - Don't flog them yet.

Mr FINCH - No. As we heard during the briefing, it is not on the radar at this time and I trust that the new TT?Line board and the State Government will see that this is the case. I must say that I was heartened by the report in our briefing today from the Chairman, Mr Denis Rogers, that actions are in train, or should that be afloat, as we speak in response to the Auditor?General's report, not to mention the processes that were in place prior to the release of the report. I endorse the motion to note the report of the Auditor?General.