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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2863 ..

(iii) an Opposition Member to be elected as chair by the committee; and

(c) agree that the committee:

(i) in conducting any public hearings, be mindful of the Public Health Emergency declaration;

(ii) report to the Assembly on a bi-annual basis;

(iii) be mindful of other committee and Assembly business requirements; and

(iv) deliver its final report by no later than the last sitting day of this term.

This motion focuses on the biggest single infrastructure project in the history of the ACT and at the core of this motion is the premise that when any government is undertaking a project of this magnitude, the taxpayers deserve absolute transparency and genuine input.

Yesterday, Mr Assistant Speaker, I thought we both witnessed an extraordinary performance from the transport minister during question time. Yesterday Mr Steel asserted in here on a number of occasions that anyone who dares to question any aspect of this project is clearly against the project. His assertion is absurd. I can only assume that it is Mr Steel’s belief that the Auditor-General is against the project because he dared to speak ill of it or some aspect of the business case in his report into the business case for stage 2A. Again, that is absurd.

This is the biggest infrastructure project in the history of the ACT. It is not Mr Steel’s money, it is not Mr Barr’s money, it is not Mr Rattenbury’s money; it is money from hardworking Canberrans and they deserve to know exactly how it is being spent.

The delivery of the Auditor-General’s report was a key moment in the time line of this project because it highlighted that the avenues for genuine scrutiny of this project are extremely limited. Sure, we have the ability to ask questions in the chamber; but, as we saw yesterday, it is very easy for the minister to just avoid those questions.

At this point the only genuine avenues that we have in this Assembly to scrutinise the project are in estimates and annual reports that sometimes happen once a year and sometimes twice. I just do not think that that is enough. When you consider how important this project is to our city, when you consider the size of the spend, it is my belief, and it is certainly the belief of the Canberra Liberals, that the establishment of a committee to examine its rollout is of paramount importance.

Again, this does not mean that we are against the project. When we, the Canberra Liberals, make criticisms of the health system, it does not mean that we want to burn the hospital down. That is not what it means. When we make criticisms of things going on in education, it does not mean that we want to shut dozens of schools. I think someone in here has already done that. It does not mean that that is what we want to do. I refuse to be drawn down the rabbit hole that Mr Steel wants us to go down and I can only assume that he wants to avoid scrutiny of this project by deflecting to schoolboy politics.

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