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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 1042..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

three weeks-it could have brought it down in February-but the timing is to coincide with the government's own political agenda.

Today we saw the launch of the Canberra plan. The Canberra plan was launched at the unique hour of 9.15-I do not believe any other plan ever has been-so that the Treasurer could come to this place to drop his bill so that the government could have it in a couple of weeks. It does not work that way. This bill deserves appropriate scrutiny. It deserves adequate scrutiny. It deserves the involvement of the community and I think even 4 May, six or seven weeks, is a very quick process for an estimates committee. I say to members that 4 May is an appropriate time; 30 March is totally unacceptable.

MS DUNDAS (10.50): I have some concerns with such a quick turnaround for this appropriation bill because of the workload it would put on the committee. I understand the Treasurer's need to have this debated quickly and would like to move this forward before the next budget. However, there are some significant initiatives in here such as disability, housing, and services with relief costs, transport initiatives, and workers compensation. There are some new initiatives under the Treasurer's portfolio that he has spoken about at length today with some new funds. One is a capital works grant to the University of Canberra. We also need to look at the supporting children at risk matters-a significant amount of money is going there. It is quite possible that those few things could be investigated within two weeks but to turn it around and also have the report drafted within those two weeks is putting a great burden on three members of this Assembly.

The other concern I have is that, even if the committee were able to report by 30 March, the Treasurer would like to fast-track this debate and have the debate on 1 April. Again, it is a great workload for the entire Assembly to get through an appropriation bill in such a short amount of time with or without the support of the estimates committee. So I cannot support the amendment. If there is further discussion about this maybe we can have the leave of the Assembly to table the report out of session. So the information the estimates committee gleans and its report could be submitted in April, weeks before we have the next sitting in May. Then the whole Assembly will have time to consider that, and have time to see the report from the government, and it can debate it on that first sitting day in May in a fully informed sense. Hopefully another member will speak so I can draft that motion to table it out of session.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (10.53): Ms Dundas and Ms Tucker are two members who talk with legitimacy about housing, the housing crisis in the ACT, and the need for housing for people in the ACT. I say to Ms Tucker and to Ms Dundas that it is important to get $33 million contained in this bill into the system as soon as we can. They will lose a great deal of credibility with me if they do not support this bill and the timetable that the Treasurer prefers.

Mrs Burke: The taxpayers deserve to know what the government is doing though. Say something real.

MR WOOD: Well, those members have had credibility in housing in the past. That is why I separate them out from others. Compare Appropriation Bill (No 1) to this


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