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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2495 ..

Attorney-General's Department

Proposed expenditure - Division 100 - Attorney-General's, $52,944,000

MR CONNOLLY (12.45 am): Madam Deputy Speaker, the Attorney-General's vote each year has tended to be one of the least contentious items of the budget, government to government, and this year is much the same. The one item I want to address some concerns about is the Ombudsman's area. We heard at the Estimates Committee that the 9 per cent budget cut had simply been imposed by the Government and the Ombudsman's Office had no real idea of how that was to be met. There was still disagreement at that time about how that would be met, and I would certainly express my concerns about that.

It is also clear that the major capital works item in the vote is the Labor Government's project of the new magistrates court which is taking shape across the way here. While there is half a million dollars set down for 1997-98 for Supreme Court refurbishments, that clearly is merely the very temporary essential works for the Supreme Court, and Mr Humphries's rhetoric from year to year in opposition about the need for major refurbishment of the Supreme Court seems not yet to have been addressed. Madam Deputy Speaker, I have to admit defeat. At 12.45 am there is no way I can think of baiting Mr Hird on the Attorney-General's estimates, so I will say no more.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (12.46 am): Madam Deputy Speaker, it is my hope that the Government can commit resources in the future to an establishment of better facilities for the Supreme Court. I do not recall any rhetoric about that area in the past. I do not think I have ever spoken very much about the Supreme Court before, but perhaps Mr Connolly can dig out where I have said that. I do not recall having said so.

Mr Connolly: There is also no fourth judge, but that is another story.

MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed. There are lots of things I would like to be funding, Mr Connolly. You say you would not make any of the cuts we are making, and you say you would not raise any taxes. You do not explain how you would bring down a balanced budget. I am a bit confused about it. You also criticise the size of our deficit. So I do not know how it is all supposed to work. Obviously, we are wasting a hell of a lot of money somewhere in our budget and I wish you would tell us where it was, because we would act on it straightaway, I assure you.

Ms Follett: Doctors, business, consultants.

MR HUMPHRIES: Funding for business; that is right. I do hope, Madam Deputy Speaker, that we can build better facilities for things like the Supreme Court in future. I hope also that we are able to develop a program of rationalising resources, particularly with the concept of a combined grievance office that takes in the Ombudsman, in a way which does not result in any of those services, including the Ombudsman, suffering any reduction in the quality of their service.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

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