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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2184..


MS PORTER (continuing):

Let us not forget the attendants and the wonderful morning and afternoon teas that kept us going, and the Hansard staff who battled with the sometimes hard to follow cut-and-thrust of the robust questioning. The estimates process is a team effort, so each person in that team needs to be acknowledged and recognised for their contribution. So thank you again. Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend the 2006-07 budget to the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.17): The report that has been tabled does not contain a recommendation from the estimates committee for 2006-07 that the budget be passed. It does not do that because this is a budget with more holes in it than a kilo of Swiss cheese, with more holes in it than a colander, or with more holes in it than a fishing net. It is full of errors, omissions, mistakes, contradictions, assertions and wild hopes. The estimates process has uncovered many of them, and many more will be uncovered in the coming year. All of this leads me to doubt the ability of the Treasurer to deliver any of these reforms. He has not justified any of the reforms in his documents or in the answers that he gave either in the estimates process or to questions taken on notice.

You have to remember, Mr Deputy Speaker, that this is not an ordinary estimates committee. There were six members on this committee this year to help scrutinise the government's budget. There was a government chair-a chair from the Labor Party. It was a stacked committee. Half the members were Labor and the committee still refused to endorse the budget of the Stanhope government. And why, Mr Deputy Speaker? It is because of the errors. It is because of the omissions, the mistakes, the contradictions, the assertions and the wild hopes contained in the budget. That is why I take great pleasure in bringing to the attention of the Assembly today the dissenting report written by you and me.

I note that we have a dissenting report from Mr Gentleman in largely a butt-covering exercise, because it is Mr Gentleman who caused the most disruption in this committee; it is Mr Gentleman who had to apologise to the committee for his appalling behaviour and his offensive language; and it is Mr Gentleman who has now written a dissenting report to, I guess, try and cover up for his mistakes. It is interesting that Mr Gentleman sent an email apology to all of us and apologised on Monday in the committee hearings. But you have to question-and I note that Dr Foskey has put in a couple of comments as well-whether this was all a sham to put the committee off its course.

Ms MacDonald, the cause of most of this problem, is now safely in New Zealand. It is interesting to reflect, Mr Deputy Speaker, on the Canberra Times article that appeared in Monday's paper under the headline "MLA in mercy dash to stave off ambush". Well, it was probably more like a stupidity dash by MLA to stave off a second own goal, having kicked the first one. Ms MacDonald left the committee at midday on Wednesday before the report was finished-in fact, halfway through the deliberations that day, with a final day of deliberations on the Friday. It was her incompetence and negligence to do her duty that caused us to meet again on Monday, extending the time for consideration and, of course, denying non-government members a decent period to write their dissenting report.

The Canberra Times article said that opposition committee members planned to ambush and rewrite parts of the final report. Well, we were not rewriting the final report, because consideration of the draft report had not been finished. I know that we all-certainly


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