Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 June 2011) . . Page.. 2738 ..
money on a government office block that is simply unnecessary—$430 million and counting on a government office block—at a time when we have got too many office blocks in this town.
There it is. There are some choices for this government to make. They can pull out. They still can pull out of this project. They do not have to go down this path. It is the wrong path. It is the path that rejects the community. It rejects the community’s needs. It rejects what people need and want for their standard of living, for their communities. And I would commend to the government not just real infrastructure reform but better decision making and abandoning what would be the biggest white elephant built by any government in recent memory.
MR COE (Ginninderra) (9.19): I, too, want to add my voice to the concerns already raised by the opposition and the community as well about the government office building. To have $430 million of taxpayers’ dollars tied up in something such as this speaks volumes about just how arrogant this government is, how out of touch they are and how they simply do not understand the concept of opportunity costs and how to actually evaluate priorities. What you have here is a situation where the government are so obsessed with their own internal workings and their own empire building that they are unable to see that there could be alternative ways of spending this $430 million or, indeed, considering perhaps not even taking it from the taxpayer in the first place.
It is interesting that, in the last month or so, the new Chief Minister has sought to rebrand herself in part. We are seeing the open and transparent public document come out. We are seeing some critique of the public art of the past. We are seeing some so-called reforms to travel. But if you actually look through her travel report when she was the Treasurer and the health minister alone, you see that there were some pretty expensive air fares to Melbourne and Sydney in the past. I wonder whether those short-haul flights that seem to be economy trips do not include Melbourne and Sydney. I wonder where, in fact, those short-haul domestic economy flights actually were. Perhaps there is one there somewhere, but I would have thought a $960 return flight to Melbourne is probably a business class fare.
There is an opportunity here for this government not just to rebrand but to reform how it deals with infrastructure and how it delivers services to the people who pay their wages and give them the funds to invest in their future. It seems to me that this government are far more interested in their grandiose schemes of self-indulgence than they are in returning the money to taxpayers by way of meaningful infrastructure that will add value to our community.
On this attempted rebranding which I just mentioned, it is interesting that she would see the need to put out a document about open and transparent government. We all know that the very poorly encrypted code is that you are not open and you are not transparent at the moment, otherwise, why else would you need to put out a document such as that? Why else would you need to create a bit of a hoo and a bit of a ha, as Mr Pratt might say, about such an issue? Why would you need to, in effect, have a go at the previous Chief Minister about public art if the previous public art policy was right? Why would you need to do that? Why would you need to come out and say