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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 726 ..

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I think all ACT budgets to date have been framed without the detailed knowledge of the specific purpose payments from the Commonwealth that Mrs Carnell claims to be awaiting. In fact, over the years the variation in those specific purpose payments has been so small as to not warrant waiting for the detail before framing the budget. Perhaps Mrs Carnell, very worryingly, is flagging with us that the new Federal Government is going to do something very different by way of varying the amounts. If all they are going to do is to untie previously tied grants, I do not see why that would be a problem in itself. The precise quantum has not been a matter that any budget in this Territory has relied upon, and quite rightly.

A further matter, Mr Speaker, is that when you have early budgets you frame them and present them without having the final year outcome figures on your previous budget. Again, this has not proved to be a major difficulty in the past. I suspect that Mrs Carnell wants to put off that fateful day for reasons like her projected $10m-plus blow-out in the health budget and other embarrassing little glitches. She is giving herself a little more time to paper over the cracks, in other words.

Mr Speaker, I believe that there are good reasons for bringing down an early budget. I accept that a new Federal government might involve some level of delay in the Premiers Conference, but I do not see why the Premiers Conference should be put off to the point where the Territory could not have a budget before September, and late September at that. I believe that all States and Territories have been moving towards an early budget timetable. Given that all but one of them are political colleagues of the present Prime Minister, surely they could persuade him to hold the Premiers Conference within a reasonable timeframe. I regret, Mr Speaker, that the Territory will be having, by our standards, a very late budget, and I certainly hope that that will not continue to be the practice.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Discussion of Matter of Public Importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Ms Horodny proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The importance of protecting and enhancing the ACT's waterways, including our lakes, rivers and dams.

MS HORODNY (3.51): The matter of public importance that I wish to raise today is the importance of protecting and enhancing the ACT's waterways, including our lakes, rivers and dams. Recently we have heard of the many threats to our lakes which have been presented to the ACT community, blue-green algae being one of them, and other pollution, including siltation, and, of course, very recently, there was the issue of jet skis.

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