Page 4271 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 October 1991

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Ministerial Statement and Paper

MSĀ FOLLETT (Chief Minister and Treasurer), by leave: I would like to respond to the report by the Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Infrastructure on the new capital works program for 1991-92. On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank the committee for their report. Mr Speaker, this reporting process is a very important avenue for the public to become involved and express their concerns on issues which directly affect them. A sound and responsible capital works program provides not only a source of employment but also the tangible fabric that is our community.

I do not intend to speak on each of the 10 recommendations that were proposed by the committee. I will, however, be presenting the Government's detailed response to each recommendation at the conclusion of my statement. Generally, the recommendations of the committee were inclined towards increasing the level of the new works program.

However, I believe that the Government's program maintains a sustainable level of construction activity, consistent with this Territory's ability to fund those works without recourse to new borrowings. This is essential if the ACT is to avoid the burden of servicing that debt in future years, which is a serious problem being encountered by other States. The Government has been able to avoid such borrowings by utilising $37m of the Commonwealth's $53m special assistance for capital budget purposes.

While I share the committee's concern regarding employment levels in the ACT, I am confident that the Government's program will provide a sustainable level of employment in the ACT building and construction industry and in total employment.

In the recently released 1991-92 budget I clearly stated the Government's commitment to justifiable capital works projects that meet the community's needs; for example, the Tuggeranong swimming complex, a community theatre in Civic, and employer-supported child-care facilities for ACT Government Service employees. I would invite those members who require more detailed analysis of the approach that we are taking to examine the relevant budget documents.

Mr Speaker, concern has been expressed by the committee on the deletion of several projects from the draft program of the previous Government. I believe that those projects could not be sufficiently justified at this time, given the tight financial climate in which we are operating.

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