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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 2765..

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (11.31), in reply: I thank members for their support and I also thank the committee for its work and for the very positive response to the program of works provided for scrutiny. It is pleasing to see the improvement in the capital works process and, in particular, the tightening up of criteria in the justification for proposals. Capital works is a major component of the budget and it is essential that we ensure that the funds are used in the most effective way. This has been an area of major concern for previous governments, and the underspend again in this last financial year is of major concern. The Territory simply cannot afford to tie up budget funds in this way. The changes coming through the 1996-97 program and the processes are a start in turning these past performances around.

The committee made a number of proactive recommendations, and some of these have already been put in place by the Government. For example, bringing forward design and document readiness in advance of the financial year has been commenced already. Mr De Domenico spoke about a total of 35 projects having been advanced, and I understand that 19 of these were tendered in June and July. So, already those tender processes are under way. The committee's report was positive in many areas, and this has been further reinforced by an informal meeting between the committee and the interagency capital works group. The group appreciated the open discussions, and I am sure that these meetings will happen in the future and will be to everybody's benefit. I know that Mr Moore was fairly happy with those informal approaches. Notwithstanding the positive improvements, it is recognised that we still have a great deal to be done. With the tight financial position facing the Territory, we need to ensure that funds are put to the best possible use and that capital works performance is clearly linked with the needs of and the benefits to the community. I am sure that the improvements with the 1996-97 capital works program will be a good starting point.

For the information of members, it is currently planned that the draft 1997-98 capital works program will be with the Planning and Environment Committee in January 1997. Fully justified proposals will be considered by the Government in December this year. Those are the timeframes that we plan, Mr Speaker. As the Assembly would be aware, capital works projects now have to go through a significant process to ensure that they are in line with the community needs and with Government policy. Let us hope we can get that capital works program to the committee by January, to give it plenty of time to look at them.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Report on Expansion of Nature-based Tourism in the ACT -
Government Response

Debate resumed from 23 May 1996, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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