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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2230 ..

Ms McRae: I do not think so.

MR HUMPHRIES: We can prove that you have made a mistake. We can sit down with you and prove that you made a mistake. How about having the guts to admit that you made a mistake and acknowledge it in the debate here today? It is too late with the printed report. You have already printed it. You cannot do anything about that. How about acknowledging in the debate that, yes, you made a mistake?

Ms McRae: It does not get you off the hook, Mr Humphries.

MR HUMPHRIES: If you made a mistake you ought to acknowledge it. If you have not the guts to do so, we will do it for you.

MR WHITECROSS (4.36): Mr Speaker, it is not surprising that in relation to this first allocation a number of us might want to get up and speak, not just because it is the Legislative Assembly budget but because we are seeing in this debate some of the arguments being put by the Government. Let us go through a few of these just to get a flavour of the way this Government goes about its business. We have Mrs Carnell saying, "No, I did not decide that. It was nothing to do with me". Mrs Carnell's standard line, the Government's standard line, on everything is, "It was not my decision; it was somebody else's decision". Mrs Carnell sent a budget down to the Speaker, down to the Administration and Procedure Committee, and said, "You are going to have to find $110,000 in savings". The Administration and Procedure Committee then goes out and does that and Mrs Carnell says, "That is nothing to do with me. That was not my fault. I did not make that decision". That is simply irresponsibility on Mrs Carnell's part. No-one buys it, Mrs Carnell. You made the decision by the bottom line you gave. When you put that same argument in relation to the other items in this budget as we go through it, you will get the same reply. No-one believes that. You made the decision to cut the budget and you cannot walk away from it.

The second interesting thing is that in the Estimates Committee we repeatedly heard from Mrs Carnell the rhetoric about bottom up: "This is the new world that we are in now. We do not just hand out arbitrary figures to people and then say, `Go away and find the savings'. That happened in the bad old days. What we do is figure out what services we need to provide and then how much it is going to cost to provide them". That is what she told us in the Estimates Committee. Yet, Mr Speaker, what do we have in this case? She did not come to the Administration and Procedure Committee or to you as Speaker and say, "How much money do we need to provide the service we want to provide?". She said, "Cop this $110,000 cut. Go away and find out how you are going to do it". Of course, we know that she has done that in relation to program after program in this budget. This is just one more example of that. She cannot turn around and say that it had nothing to do with her, and she cannot sustain her argument that she has taken the responsibility, that she has constructed this budget from the bottom up. Everyone knows in relation to this item, as in relation to a number of items, that she constructed the budget from the top down. She picked a number and then she said, "Go away and find the savings".

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