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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 March 2010) . . Page.. 1421 ..


patronage to a level that is reasonable and fitting of the $100 million operation which it is.

I commend Mr Smyth for moving this motion. It is worthy of our support. I think we should all be cognisant of the fact that we are just a couple of months away from the next budget. This sort of motion is very timely in making sure that the ACT government does, indeed, deliver on its promises.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.39): Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker Hargreaves, for occupying the chair to allow me to speak to this motion. This is an important motion in the run-up to the budget. I congratulate Mr Smyth on bringing it forward and for calling on the Treasurer to bring proper priorities to spending in the ACT budget to ensure that core services are provided by the government and that the vulnerable do not pay too much.

The first part of the motion goes to some of the areas where the ACT taxpayer has paid too much after years of wanton and reckless spending by the Stanhope government in its many guises. Mr Smyth and Mr Seselja before me, and Mr Coe as well, have pointed to a great number of those excesses. Mr Seselja made the cogent point that this government measures its performance by its inputs. I will be a happy woman in this legislature when eventually a government starts to measure its services by the quality of its outcomes rather than by how much money we spend on them. As Mr Seselja rightly says, we can say how fantastically we are doing because we are spending $360 million on a dam—overall, half a billion dollars on water infrastructure. But that half a billion dollar figure that ACT water users are going to be paying for infrastructure was substantially less a few years ago. It was something less than $250 million a few years ago.

The figure has blown out through time wasting, putting off decisions and simply the government taking its eye off the ball over years and years of neglect of water infrastructure in the ACT. That has been partly due to delays. The cost of building has gone up. Jon Stanhope wanted to do everything he possibly could do to avoid building water infrastructure in the ACT. I fear, Mr Assistant Speaker, that I am part of the cause of that problem. When Brendan Smyth and I went out on 4 February 2004 and announced that we would build a dam to secure our water future at Tennant, Mr Stanhope’s immediate response was to find a way of avoiding coming up with the same policy. It was inevitable. It was inevitable that a dam would have to be built to increase our water security in the ACT. As recently as 2007, the Chief Minister was saying: “We may never have to do it. We may be able to put it off for 30 years or perhaps forever, and wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

It was not wonderful because, through his prevarication over five years, the people of the ACT have ended up with a huge water security bill. It is much higher than they would have had if we had got on with doing the job earlier in the piece. We are now looking down the barrel of $500 million worth of water security when we may have been spending something in the order of $200 million. Of course, it is off-budget so Ms Gallagher is not worrying about it. The people of the ACT worry about it because they are paying for it in their water bills. Their water bills are projected to go up $100 and now, because of the blow-out in the cost of the dam, another $100. So year in,


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