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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 7 Hansard (3 July) . . Page.. 2715..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

$1.6 billion more than they expected. The average windfall is a massive $279 million a year, or close to 10 per cent of the total expected government income.

Canberrans are entitled to ask what they have to show for all this revenue. Not many years ago, journeys of over 40 minutes to work were unthinkable in Canberra. The NRMA says that, in 2001, when Labor came to office, it inherited a good road network but under the seven years reign of the Stanhope government traffic congestion has unmistakably deteriorated, while government investment has failed to keep pace. Remarkably, Labor says that traffic delays like those on the Gungahlin Drive extension will be challenges for five years or more down the track. Traffic delays are projected to worsen under Labor's tardy timetable for road development.

Other infrastructure time bombs are also ticking, with experts pointing to huge backlogs of maintenance work on infrastructure like water pipes and the stormwater system. Labor's solution always involves short-term fixes, like the single Gungahlin Drive extension.

The previous Liberal government had budgeted to build the GDE as a four-lane road by 2004, at the cost of $53 million. Labor did not sign a contract for the first stage of GDE work until late 2005, a full year after the Liberals had promised to finish the job. The final contract to finish the GDE was not signed until well into 2006 and Labor took until 2008 to finish the job, in which time they had spent $120 million for a road that is only half the size that was originally budgeted. They broke their 2001 election promise to build the road on time and on budget. The public has put up with traffic delays during several long years of construction and, after this expensive project was supposedly finished, commuters on the GDE are finding that they are still driving at a crawl during peak times.

Across all areas of Canberra, all areas of ACT government, there are obvious shortcomings in infrastructure. Some of this is due to the lack of planning and some of this stems from a misallocation of resources away from where funding is needed.

Since Labor came to office seven years ago, ACT budget revenues have increased from $2.1 billion to $3.2 billion per annum. This is an increase of almost 50 per cent in revenue or around $1 billion for the most recent financial year. Labor has spent much of this money on short-term activity and failed to invest the windfall in long-term infrastructure.

In Labor's first two budgets, it significantly cut the amount of new money committed to capital works. In 2001, the previous Liberal government committed $89 million towards new capital works for the coming financial year; whereas the next two budgets under Labor only committed $56 million and $58 million, respectively, to new works to be undertaken in 2002-03 and 2003-04, respectively. In recent years, Labor has improved its performance. Funding for new works lifted to $138 million in 2007-08 but, while the promised funding for new works had risen 56 per cent in nominal terms, there are some misperceptions behind these figures.

The real scandal is that Labor has dramatically increased the deferral of works and the rollover of funding from one capital works budget to the next. The last Liberal


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