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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1400..


Questions without notice

Budget—accountability

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, for at least the last 10 years the ACT Chamber of Commerce traditionally has held a function on ACT budget night allowing for discussion of the impact of the budget on the business community and the wider community. We understand this year that you were invited and then at very late notice you declined and that you did pass it on to your deputy, who I understand accepted but then later declined as well. This led to the cancellation of the function. Chief Minister, why aren't you prepared to be held accountable for your budget, as shown by your non-appearance at the Chamber of Commerce function?

MR STANHOPE: It is absurd to suggest that I am not prepared to be accountable for this budget or indeed for any action of this government. I have today already in relation to this budget, in a packed budget lockup, spoken with the largest press gathering there has probably been at the Assembly at any stage in relation to any of its operations. I am speaking at a dinner this evening. I will be available to the media after delivery of the budget this afternoon. I am making a direct cross to the ABC at 7 o'clock. I am appearing before a breakfast organised by the business council, a portion of which will be directly telecast, at which I will be subject to questions, along with my deputy. I am appearing at a lunch tomorrow to address a major forum of representatives of the community.

In relation to the Chamber of Commerce I respect the interest and involvement of the chamber and its members in the budget. I look forward to them attending any of the functions that I will be attending over the next couple of days. Of course, I think it needs to be said that I look forward to the function that the chamber will of course have organised for Thursday evening in order to ensure that the alternative budget, to be presented by the Liberal Party, will be subject to the same scrutiny that I am prepared to have my budget exposed to.

So I look forward to the as-yet delivered invitation by Mr Stefaniak or those that are organising the function at which I will be offered a public opportunity to respond to the alternative budget. I look forward to the invitation yet to be delivered by the Leader of the Opposition for Liberal Party members of the business community that would like an opportunity for me to respond to the alternative budget, because I know that the Leader of the Opposition would not have launched an attack on me and my preparedness to be accountable for or to respond to my budget if he was not already similarly prepared to respond to the alternative budget, to face the community, to face the business community, to face the media and to give me that opportunity which has been afforded to both he and the shadow Treasurer, for instance tomorrow morning, to respond to my budget.

It would be such hypocrisy, it would be such humbug—and I am sure the Leader of the Opposition is not a hypocrite. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition would not engage in such an absurd suggestion as this if he had not himself arranged, through perhaps the Chamber of Commerce, to present his alternative budget publicly on Thursday evening and, similarly, arranged, say with the ABC, for me and the Deputy


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