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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3124 ..

suburbs in the ACT not getting the kinds of response times that they deserve. Some suburbs are getting very, very low response times. It is reasonable that we would say: “Well, how are you going to do things better? One of the ways is to tell us how you are going to spend the money. Are you spending the money in the right place? Are you spending too much over here and not enough over there?” We do not know, because the minister will not answer the questions.

There are serious unanswered questions. I do appreciate that the minister went to the trouble to tell us all of the things—I am sure Mr Smyth will touch on this when he speaks—that have been delivered on time and on budget. It is unfortunate that most of the big things that have ever been delivered by him were not delivered on time and on budget. The minister has had to go trawling through the past. Perhaps it was as a result of that trawling through for something that he delivered on time and on budget that he did not do the work to be able to answer the basic questions. Those questions should be able to be answered. It is 1 July. You should know how you are going to spend our money by now. If you do not, this budget simply does not deserve to pass.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.35): The emergency services line inside the justice and community safety budget is a very important line, and there are a number of issues relating to the management and delivery of emergency services in the ACT. The 2010 budget deals with prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. I note, just to start at the broad, that the total cost for emergency services increases by just more than one per cent, from $95.9 million last financial year to $96.9 million this financial year, and that government payments for outputs increases by 16 per cent, from $68 million to $78.8 million.

It is interesting to note, however, that on budget paper No 4, pages 265 to 266, there were rollovers during 2009 to the tune of $2.9 million—that included $1 million for the station’s relocation design project—and there were rollovers from 2009-10 to 2009-11 of $13.2 million, which included $4.2 million for the new headquarters building, funds for the new RFS sheds, a communications upgrade, a fire vehicle replacement and ICT infrastructure.

The new headquarters is a long-going and long-suffering project for the people of the emergency services community in the ACT. I asked a number of questions about it during the estimates process, including a fairly basic, fairly simple question that one would have expected to be answered. That is, of course: “what is the total all-up cost for that project?” I have not received an answer to that question. I am sure you would be shocked at that, Madam Assistant Speaker. It is budget paper No 4, page 276.

It is interesting that the 2010 budget provides an additional $3 million for the new headquarters. It is right there in the small print on page 268. For those that missed it, there it is: emergency services agency new headquarters, note No 2, total estimated cost includes an additional $3 million. The total estimated cost according to the budget is up to $29 million, so we know that it has gone up at least $3 million. My concerns with the project relate particularly to the cost of the project, and I refer to page 93 of the report of August 2009 by the Auditor-General on the government delivery of accommodation projects, where she says:

Audit expects the final costs of this project will be much higher …

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