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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 4115..


Mr De Domenico: Then do not repeat it.

MR WHITECROSS: I have to repeat it, Mr De Domenico, because I think you missed the point. Mr Speaker, the reality is that this Government has buried its environment efforts deep inside the Urban Services budget in a way which makes it difficult to figure out exactly how much they are spending on it. If this Government had a serious commitment to the environment it would have found a way of making environment an identifiable appropriation unit so that it was transparent about what funding it was putting into the environment.

Ms Horodny made another point which I think bears repetition, which is that the sheep dip site remediation - which she did mention, contrary to what Mr De Domenico said - is being paid for out of cuts to other programs. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that that is something Mr De Domenico should take more seriously. He was boasting about the Government's performance on the environment. Sheep dip site remediation ought not to be paid for by cuts in other programs. If anything, it ought to be being paid for out of the land and planning budget, since it was the land and planning people who issued the sites in the first place. They are the ones who issued the sites where the sheep dips were. It makes sense that it should be paid for out of their budget rather than out of the environment budget. I do not think Mr De Domenico was paying attention. I think he should have taken more seriously some of the remarks that Ms Horodny made. I hope that he will draw Ms Horodny's remarks to the attention of Mr Humphries. Hopefully, Mr Humphries will take them more seriously than Mr De Domenico did.

Mr Speaker, there is only one other thing I want to say. Mr De Domenico made much of the fact that ACTION is set to make an operating surplus this year and said that we should be impressed by that. What he did not point out is that, after they start paying the debt servicing costs associated with the lease of the fleet, part of the debt servicing costs from Mrs Carnell's budget deficit, a $1m net increase in costs for the fleet compared to what we are paying now, we go from an operating surplus to an operating deficit. So, Mr De Domenico, as a result of the sale and lease-back of the fleet, your public transport system is actually going to be running at a loss, not at a profit; in fact, there will be a $2m turnaround from profit to loss. Mr De Domenico, if you want to quote the budget papers, at least be honest. The fact is that you are going from an operating - - -

Mr De Domenico: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask that he withdraw that remark - "at least be honest".

MR SPEAKER: Yes. Withdraw, Mr Whitecross.

MR WHITECROSS: I will withdraw that. Let the facts speak for themselves, Mr Speaker. The facts are a $700,000 operating surplus this year, and a $1.2m operating loss next year. At the same time they sell the fleet and the cost of operating the buses goes up from $6m to $7m because of this decision by this Government. ACTION has been saddled with an extra $1m worth of costs. The Government is going to be spending that money to pay for its budget deficit. Mr Speaker, the facts speak for themselves. Mr De Domenico can characterise it how he likes; the facts speak for themselves.


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