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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 1041..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Paragraph (4), omit "4 May", substitute "30 March".

Certainly the amount of money is substantial. A substantial body of paper goes with the bill. However, when it comes to the analysis of content, there is no great complexity in analysing the content. As I said in my presentation speech, many items in this bill would not have been in the bill and would have just been incorporated and funded through the Treasurer's advance, but as members will know, the requirements for the Financial Management Act provide that if there is an appropriation bill, then all expenditures that are intended should be included in it. So there is a tail in the bill of a lot of ancillary items but in the main it represents EBAs and it represents a couple of very substantial investments that have already been heralded in the economic white paper. I suggest to the House that an appropriate reporting date would be 30 March. That would allow the appropriation bill to be debated in that week, given the sitting pattern. It is unfortunate the way the sitting pattern falls and allows these things to be done. The delay is really at the cost of Canberra.

It is at the cost of, for example, the University of Canberra who is anxious to be sure that it has the funding to extend its capacity to provide for allied health professionals. We have great difficulty in finding those professionals in this town. Although we have the facilities, from time to time we cannot find, for example, radiologists. People are suffering because of that. So I do think that it is not beyond the capacity of the Assembly given the amount of work that has been done to pitch in and make sure that we can implement these initiatives. I think members would have to concede that they are all very positive initiatives in a reasonable space of time.

MR SMYTH: Speaking to the amendment, I think it defies belief that the government would ask that a $100 million appropriation go through the entire estimates committee process in under three weeks. Today is the 11th and he wants it on the 30th. It is not even three weeks. The argument from the Treasurer is that it is fairly simple and we have heralded some of it and the University of Canberra wants to get on with it. If the University of Canberra wants to get on with it, why didn't the government bring this appropriation bill or a number of appropriation bills in earlier? If, as he states, some of this has been around for some time, and the government had already decided, it could have brought in a number of appropriation bills over a period of time, or paid it through the Treasurer's Advance and sought to recoup the Treasurer's Advance at a later date in a bill.

The three members who will do this work will have three weeks. One of those will be a day of the next sitting week. Of those weeks I believe the Chief Minister is away for two weeks, so how will we be able to scrutinise the Chief Minister on his segments, which, just at a quick glance, are fairly substantial amounts of money on some fairly substantial issues? So, the committee will not have time to talk to the Chief Minister about his part of this bill. The government talks about being honest, open and accountable and involving the community, and a three week process would not allow for a committee to call for any community comment on this plan. So it is a ridiculous notion to think that we should push through a committee this amount of money in that time simply so the government can discuss this in the last sitting week in March. It could have brought this down last week, which would have made it slightly better. That would not have given us


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