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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 8 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3202..


government report to the ACT Legislative Assembly on what measures it takes to hold third parties accountable for the quality of technical advice they provide to the government. This is a significant issue, because the government clearly does not have experts in every single field of endeavour and frequently relies on expert advice for all manner of things. What happens when the expert advice turns out to be not very good advice, as seems to have occurred in this instance? It is clearly a wider systematic problem and is something that demands the ACT government's attention.

Another thing which demands the ACT government's attention but is not quite as systematic is recommendation 7, which looks at establishing the feasibility of a centralised government-maintained asbestos register. This has been a recommendation in a number of forums—I have a feeling the estimates committee may have recommended this. Certainly, given the long gestation time for people who have been exposed to asbestos having adverse effects in the future, there is a need for some register of asbestos exposure. That would seem a very reasonable thing for the government to do. In the interests of brevity, I will leave it at that.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.54): Thank you, Madam Chair, for tabling the report. Perhaps I have been remiss; people will know that the public accounts committee has been very productive. Four reports are coming down today, and I would particularly like to thank the secretary of the committee, Dr Andrea Cullen, for the great work that she does. She is a pleasure to work with. I wish her well and thank her very much for all that she has done for the PAC over the term of this Assembly.

The review of the Auditor-General's report No 3 of 2011 could well have been a summary report of how this government delivers capital works. I note that the minister got a dixer in question time: "how big is your capital works?"This is the explanation at the heart of why their capital works program grows and grows because of their ineptitude, their inability to scope things properly, their inability to deliver on time and their inability to deliver on budget.

For those who have forgotten the story of the north Weston pond project, it starts in September 2009 where we had a design for a large single pond. That pond was approximately 800 metres by 200 metres with a volume of 280 megalitres and an area of approximately 14 hectares. For those of you who know Point Hut pond in Gordon, as Mr Hargreaves does, it is about the size of that pond.

In January 2011 it was revised to two smaller ponds with a smaller volume of approximately 180 megalitres—so 280 down to 180—a reduction of 100 megalitres, or 30 per cent. Funding: remember, the size of the ponds went down. But what happened to the funding? Well, the funding goes up. The original funding in the September quarter 2009-10 capital works report was for the north Weston pond and bridge—first mention of the program—with a project value of $12 million. It was a combined project as there was also a bridge. However, before the project had really begun, the project value had increased to something like $20 million—an increase of 66 per cent or $8 million. Remember the size has contracted by 30 per cent but it has grown in cost by 66 per cent.


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