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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1440..


MR OSBORNE (continuing):

You may need to take this on notice as well, but is part of the problem that the AFL and the Kangaroos are in fact being forced to negotiate with the ACT Cricket Association, which effectively controls the use of Manuka Oval, rather than with the ACT government or even CTEC?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am concerned that there could be some problem or issue which might affect the match scheduled for 19 May. I have not been informed of any problem of the kind that Mr Osborne has raised, although the letter he has referred to obviously suggests that there might be a problem. I would be very happy to examine that issue as quickly as possible and make sure that if there is a problem it is fixed as quickly as possible so that the game on 19 May can go ahead.

Research and development grants scheme

MS TUCKER: Chief Minister, a year ago, in the 2000-01 budget, your predecessor announced the establishment of a research and development grants scheme, with $11 million to be spent over three years, to assist local businesses and institutions in the early stages of product development to advance to the commercialisation stage. In fact, Mrs Carnell, in her media release about this new scheme, said that, due to overwhelming demand, the $2 million proposed in the then draft budget was increased to $4 million. She also said that she was confident that this boost to local R&D funding would enhance the ACT's reputation as a clever capital and a suitable location for establishing knowledge-based industries.

However, in the latest budget we find that only $2 million of the first year funding of $4 million was actually spent in 2000-01 because of the low level of applications. The remaining $2 million has been rolled over to 2001-02 and the rest of the $11 million has just disappeared from the forward estimates. I note that there is no mention of this R&D scheme in this government's initiatives for the budget, even though the government has included innovation as one of its key themes for the budget. Could you explain why this R&D scheme has failed and has been abandoned by the government?

MR HUMPHRIES: It has not failed and it has not been abandoned by the government. The government has allocated a budget, as Ms Tucker mentioned, of $4 million for this financial year to the research and development fund. At the end of March 2001 the panel which overviews the distribution of moneys from this fund had approved approximately $3.4 million in grant applications since the program was introduced in the previous July. I think $3.4 million out of $4 million by March is a fairly good achievement.

MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. That was not an answer. Chief Minister, does the fact that you have had to reduce the amount of money to such a degree show that there has been, basically, a media-spin exercise rather than a fully thought out industry development policy that has supported your original estimate of expenditure of $11 million?

MR HUMPHRIES: I do not know what I have to say to satisfy Ms Tucker. We said that we would spend $4 million. We have approved the expenditure of $3.4 million out of a $4 million budget by the end of March. In fact, if Ms Tucker said to me, "You have spent too much of the budget. You have not allowed enough for the last quarter of the


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