Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1839..
MR CORBELL: I am happy to seek that advice, Mr Speaker, and I will endeavour to let Ms Tucker know the outcome of those inquiries, but the real issue here is whether the territory should be in a position to withdraw from a commercial arrangement of the nature that is now in place for section 56. It is my strong view that we should not and it is the government's strong view that we should not. This is about a major redevelopment project in Civic. Urban consolidation does have to occur somewhere in our city and I cannot think of a better site than a car park in the middle of Civic.
MS MacDONALD: Can the Minister for Urban Services tell the Assembly what the implications will be for the ACT of the federal government's decision to cut the national roads to recovery scheme by $100 million in the next financial year, down to $200 million?
MR WOOD: Yes, I can. It will have an impact because there was an allocation in the former government's estimates of $5 million for the next financial year and that, of necessity, is now being cut back to $3.33 million. The allocation was part of a four-year program for the ACT at a cost of something like $20 million. The cut will bring about problems for the ACT, as for the whole of Australia. Perhaps it will bring about bigger problems in other parts of Australia.
The Australian Local Government Association put out a media release expressing its concern about the cut. I will quote part of it. It reads:
Apparently, no thought has been given to the consequences for local communities, now forced to cover a $100 million financial shortfall in order to meet their road construction commitments or pay unknown but potentially huge penalties for breaking contracts with construction companies.
These cuts relate to forward commitments. As Mr Smyth and others opposite would know, these commitments are entered into well ahead of time in anticipation of the work proceeding. To cut funding in the federal budget a month or two before the commencement of a financial year is no help at all to those people who build roads. It is the nature of those programs that any changes in funding need a long lead time.
In the ACT, two projects are currently drawing funds from that source. One is on the Monaro Highway at Dairy Flat, which I see every day on my way to work. The other, the Monaro off-road cycling lane, I also see on my way to work. Both are well known to other people. They will be impacted upon, but that will be managed. DUS has advised me that cash management will take over and it will work those projects through to see that they are completed by the target date. But there will be an impact elsewhere because two other road upgrades-the Sutton Road upgrade and the Boboyan Road upgrade-will now be deferred after a time until 2003-04 and 2004-05. That will be the impact and it does seem to me to be a short-sighted, instantly reactive way of managing affairs by the federal government.
To put on another hat, as minister for housing I went a little while ago to a housing ministers meeting and was disappointed to hear Amanda Vanstone, the federal minister, making quite clear that there would not be so much money for the CSHA next year.