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On the question of achievable projects, I note that in last year’s program $33m worth of projects were not started by the end of the fiscal year. The Chief Minister and Treasurer had to review $33m worth of projects that were in the previous year’s capital works program and that, as of 30 June this year, had not been started. Some of them are very significant ones. One has to ask: Why? How did they get into the program if it was not possible to implement them? Why was the money not spent? What did the people who should have been overseeing and implementing those projects do? It is very significant work. There must have been a lot of public servants sitting around not doing much, when $33m worth of projects did not even get started. One has to ask what they were doing.
That is the reason why the committees, the Government and this Assembly need to be sure when we approve a capital works project that it has been properly researched; that projects are properly put together and properly costed; and that we know, with some degree of certainty, what is going to happen. I, and others, I am sure, will be looking very carefully in future years, project by project; and, if the committee has anything to do with it, nothing will get into the program in future unless it has been properly justified from the outset.
MS HORODNY (4.13): Mr Speaker, as a novice to this process, my initial response to this capital works program was that, as other members have said, the proposals appeared to be rather ad hoc; and I could not see any clear strategy. When I remarked to the other members about this void they all said that they ask for a strategy each and every year; and each has responded to this question in this way today as well: The lack of a long-term plan is an ongoing issue. I would like to reiterate the point. Let us hope that this is the last year that a capital works program is presented to a committee without that overall plan.
I was absolutely horrified to see the proposal for the spending of $435,000 on so-called nature reserve infrastructure with no - and, I repeat, absolutely no - indication of where it would be sited. That is obviously the critical point about this issue. I had no idea what it was; why it was there; what it was about; and where it was to be located. How on earth can I endorse such a proposal when I do not know the answers to those questions and was not able to get those answers from the people who were there supposedly to address those questions? It is impossible for me - and it should be equally appalling, and I think it was, to the other members of that committee - to give any such endorsement to a proposal like that.
I was equally unhappy with the proposal to invest $400,000 in the rehabilitation of Boboyan Pines, with no information about a weed strategy to provide some context about implementing that plan. It does not make any sense to me to be preparing that area for rehabilitation when there is no comprehensive strategy in place to make sure that weeds in the nearby Tidbinbilla area do not invade that freshly prepared area for rehabilitation. We need to be tackling invasive plants all over Canberra, particularly in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. I recently went for a drive through this nature reserve to investigate the weed problem there. I had not been there for some 18 months. I noticed an incredible increase in weeds there. I was really horrified, knowing how quickly these plants spread. I noticed pyracantha, cotoneaster, privet and box elder.