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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2231 ..

MR WHITECROSS (continuing):

Mr Humphries says, "You have to cop a cut like everything else". Once again, we have Mrs Carnell saying, "We construct our budgets from the bottom up. We figure out what we need to provide and how much that is going to cost, and then off we go". Mr Humphries says, "You have to cop a cut because everyone else is copping a cut". Never mind about what services you are trying to provide under this item or any other item, never mind what it costs to provide the service; you just have to cop a cut. Never mind how this area might be performing in comparison with other State governments; you have to cop a cut. We have a situation where the Government, in its internal rhetoric, is confused. We have Mrs Carnell saying that she constructs budgets from the bottom up. We have Mr Humphries saying, "It is an arbitrary cut because you have to take your share". We have Mrs Carnell saying, "It is not my problem; it is nothing to do with me".

Finally, we have the allegation that the Estimates Committee did not know what they were talking about; that they made a recommendation in their report based on a false premise. I can assure Mr Humphries, because I was in the Estimates Committee when this was discussed, that at no stage did anybody contradict the Estimates Committee in relation to that item. We had a quite extensive discussion involving you, Mr Speaker, and officials of the Legislative Assembly, and there were Treasury officials present in the back stalls. Nobody came forward and said, "With respect, Madam Chair, your committee is mistaken about this". On the contrary, all the way through that process, we were allowed to labour under this belief. If there is any responsibility to be taken for the fact that the Government are now coming up with a different explanation of what has happened with this cut, it is to be taken by the Government and their officials, who apparently have not managed to convey it to anybody else. If there is any apologising to be done, the apologising should be done by the Government, who have failed to communicate what they have done, not by the Estimates Committee, who were not correctly advised by the people who were there telling the Estimates Committee about the way the Legislative Assembly budget was constructed.

I reject any suggestion that the Estimates Committee have stuffed this up. If there is a problem, the Treasury officials who were there should have brought it to the Estimates Committee's attention. I do not think there is any basis for saying that anyone owes anyone an apology, except that the Government, perhaps, owes the Assembly an apology for not correctly explaining what they have done. Regardless of what they have done, one thing we know is that they came down to the Administration and Procedure Committee and said, "You have to take a $110,000 cut". They are now trying to run away from it and say that they are not responsible for services that had to be cut because of that cut in the budget. Mrs Carnell is going for the Goebbels technique of saying, "That has increased your budget, not reduced it".

Mrs Carnell: It is true.

Mr Connolly: "True", she says.

MR WHITECROSS: "True", she says. I rest my case. Her explanation of her approach to budgeting has been contradicted by Mr Humphries, who says, "We just hand out arbitrary cuts to everyone and you have to cop your share".

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