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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2194 ..

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (12.35), in reply: Mr Speaker, in closing the debate I would like to thank the members who have spoken for their comments, and reiterate that I think this is the legitimate way to get the Government to change its budget. I think it has been made very clear that it is the unanimous view of the parties in this Assembly that the changes should be made. As I said before, there are any number of other changes that the Estimates Committee could have recommended, but did not. In arriving at just these few the Estimates Committee acted, I believe, with a great deal of restraint.

Mrs Carnell asked why these particular recommendations had been picked out of the 35 or so recommendations of the Estimates Committee. The short answer to that, Mr Speaker, is that I picked them out because they are the recommendations which involve the expenditure of money. It is my view that only the Government can make amendments to the budget which involve the expenditure of money. Mr Speaker, that makes absolutely no judgment on the relative importance of other issues. The fact of the matter is that they are simply not in the Estimates Committee's recommendations. I believe that there are other extremely important issues, such as health, continuing public sector employment, and the commitment to public sector employment, and the question of libraries. Those matters are all of enormous significance to the community, but they are not in the Estimates Committee report. In moving the motion in the way that I have I am saying to the Government, "You must act on the Estimates Committee's report". I believe that that is the correct course of action.

I was shocked and appalled in the course of our last sittings in the Assembly to hear members of the Government calling upon me and other members of the Assembly to amend the budget. That was a constant interjection from Mrs Carnell and Mr Humphries, knowing full well that that could not be done. It was the height of irresponsibility. I believe that the fact that the Government apparently was in possession of legal advice saying that that could not be done only adds to that level of irresponsibility.

I commend this motion to the Assembly and I thank members who have indicated their support for it. If the Government wants a responsible attitude to its budget it should take one itself. It should take seriously the Assembly's views, and it should take seriously its responsibilities to present a budget that can be supported by the Assembly. I have said, Mr Speaker, that, if the Government does not take seriously this Estimates Committee's report and make the changes which have been recommended, my party will be voting against the budget. That is the course of action that we will be taking.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.38 to 2.30 pm

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