Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 June 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2343 ..
life of the project costs for goods, services, building materials and the like increase. The final cost of the project is actually more than the $8 million first announced. That is the justification the government has used to explain increased construction costs for the GDE; the reason for the cost of the prison now being $128.7 million and not $110 million; the reason that Quamby has not been reconstructed and has been further delayed.
The proponents of the dragway initially announced that $8 million was the cost of building a standard facility worth constructing. That was in 2001. Construction costs have increased significantly since that time. Land values in the ACT would have increased significantly, perhaps as much as 60 or 70 per cent; and building costs have increased by at least 40 per cent, according to the MBA; and I think that is a pretty conservative estimate. So the Chief Minister, in stating that no escalator will apply to the dragway and that only $8 million will be spent, is now admitting that this will lead to two outcomes—a substandard facility which, as a result, will be poorly utilised—a white elephant the territory can ill-afford—or no dragway at all.
When I say “no dragway” I think the Chief Minister is seeking to make it too hard—and find an out. He does not want to build a dragway. If he underfunds the facility the proponents will say it is not up to scratch and that they do not want to be part of it. That will give Mr Stanhope the out he needs. He can say, “I want to build a dragway but the proponents don’t want it, so we won’t build it now.” He will make it seem as if the fault lies with someone else and not in the fact that he is underfunding the construction.
The Chief Minister also appears to be discovering construction difficulties and noise issues to avoid constructing the facility. I understand that a dragway causes noise—everyone knows that—at high levels during times of use, and I understand that the noise is in intense bursts. Mr Stanhope spoke of some of the noise difficulties that may be faced, particularly by Hackett, Downer and the inner north, if a dragway is constructed. Of course, Mr Stanhope would have been well aware of the fact that dragways make noise when he promised to construct such a facility. It was obvious to all that constructing the facility would create a noise impact.
Before the election, though, I do not recall Mr Stanhope placing any riders on the construction of a dragway. I do not recall him saying, “We will only build a dragway if it is not too noisy, or if it does not cost too much.” However, in estimates on 16 May Mr Stanhope said, “We are not prepared to build a dragway until we are quite comfortable around those noise impacts.” They are noise impacts that the government was well aware of when it made its promises, and it appears now to be seeking to back out of the promise it made to the people of Canberra at the last election. That is just one in the litany of broken promises that we will be talking about today and on Thursday, no doubt, as we debate this budget.
Another area of concern during the estimates process in relation to the Chief Minister’s Department, when the committee was examining the Chief Minister, came in relation to his disdain for the chair. We saw a disgraceful exchange where, after the committee had made the decision—a decision that I did not agree with—not to name a particular individual, Mr Stanhope continually named the individual in order to slander that person. It was a disgraceful exchange. Not only did this show his contempt for this person, who has been treated shoddily and with contempt by ACT government agencies, he was then