Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 2284..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
the statement as useless in that it did not actually concentrate on initiatives, programs and policy areas aimed specifically at improving the status of women in the ACT and working to help women. We should not just have an arbitrary list of budget initiatives. The committee recommended that any women's budget statement actually focus on initiatives and programs that are specifically aimed at supporting women. We do need to have a full debate about gender auditing in the ACT. It is disappointing that this women's budget statement did not progress that.
I would like to put strongly on the record that my view is contrary to that of Mr Stefaniak and Mrs Dunne in relation to the need for a specific men's budget statement. I do not think that one is needed. Women do suffer disadvantage in our community and continue to suffer disadvantage in our community, and we do need a specific statement that looks at how we are working to address that disadvantage whilst still providing that support to women. Men are still the majority of workers, still the majority of politicians, and still hold the majority of leading positions in the ACT and control over these kinds of issues. That is why we need to continue to be vigilant in the work that we are doing in relation to addressing that disadvantage and inequality.
The committee did recommend that the Appropriation Bill 2004-2005 be passed, but we are concerned at the likelihood of supplementary bills in the very near future. (Extension of time granted.) The sitting days left for this Assembly are limited and this budget is expected to be passed next week, but we are already hearing that supplementary appropriation bills will be needed to move forward some of the initiatives contained in this budget and some of the other programs that the government is keen to progress, which would limit the time available to this Assembly to provide proper scrutiny over those appropriations and requests for other funding. It is of concern that the government did not have its act together enough to provide amendments to this appropriation bill or to include those things that it expects to be supplementary in this appropriation bill so that they could be considered fully without being rushed through in the limited time left for this Assembly.
MR HARGREAVES (12.11): I thank Mrs Burke for allowing me to speak as the final member of the committee. Mr Speaker, I am not going to go through too much of the report. Other members have gone through the parts of the report that turn them on and, no doubt, the shadow ministers also will get a real buzz out of having a crack at it as well. I wish them all the best in the world.
Mr Speaker, I want to touch on two things-the cash reserves and the process. The budget papers are saying that it is okay to borrow when there will be a flow of future benefits or, of course, reduced expenditure. In other words, it is okay to borrow so long as you can service the debt. But that does not mean that you have to do it. It does not mean that you must borrow in those circumstances. If you have a surplus cash capacity, borrowing can be unnecessary; in fact, quite often undesirable.
I will give a couple of examples, Mr Speaker. You would not ordinarily borrow money for a basic community service obligation infrastructure, such as a suburban street; you would not do it. On the other hand, you might, to give the example that was thrown to me from the front bench, borrow for a tollway; you could borrow for that. You could borrow for a dam or a prison. Those things are, in a sense, realisable assets. But you would not go too far down that track if you did not have the capacity to repay the loan.