Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2643..
MR WOOD: I do not recall that I spoke specifically to Mr Stanhope about those issues. The 17th was the Friday. I do not recall that. I certainly had conversations with Mr Stanhope over that period on a whole range of issues, as ministers do at all times. I do not have a particular memory of what might have been said about the fires.
MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Urban Services regarding the government's overdue response to the planning and environment committee's inquiry into the Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Amendment Bill. Minister, in your response, the government undertook to conduct a budget buyout of hire car plates by 1 July 2005. Do you have a precise timetable for that buyout? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
MR WOOD: I suppose it is a precise buyout-it is by that date. The reason for that date is that it comes after the next budget. There is no appropriation in the current budget for the approximate amount of money that we could speculate would be part of that buyout. I would hope that it could be done sooner, but I would have to find a mechanism by which to do it. That is the reason that date was given.
MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, given that the planning and environment committee's report has been on the table since 19 December last year, why was this not considered in the budget context?
MR WOOD: At that time we were working through all the issues. I wish the process had been completed in this chamber well before that, and that it had not gone to a committee-although one outcome of the committee's report is that we picked up some of its recommendations: specifically and importantly the one about the hire cars. But you do not prepare budgets on the basis of speculation-on what might happen. We had not worked through those issues at that time.
MR HARGREAVES: Given that the opposition is not interested in what is happening in the Emergency Services Authority, Mr Speaker, I would like to ask a question, through you, of the minister for emergency services. Now that the legislation creating the Emergency Services Authority has passed, what other advances in emergency services are being made, Minister?
MR WOOD: Since the focus today is all on the fire brigade, let me talk about that. I might indicate that, as regards support, the budget gave a 26 per cent increase to emergency services. That is a very heavy commitment on the part of this government.
Mr Corbell: Unlike Brendan Smyth when he was emergency services minister.
MR WOOD: No, he wasn't very helpful.
Mr Corbell: He wasn't very good, was he?