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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1287 ..

Capital Works Budget

MS FOLLETT: I have a question for Mr Moore in his capacity as chair of the Planning and Environment Committee. You have to be on your toes when you start these little stunts. My question relates to Mr Moore's earlier answer to a question in regard to the Government's failure to spend $14.2m of its capital works budget, and I share Mr Moore's regret as to the jobs that that has lost the Territory. My question to Mr Moore is: Given your concern, why then do you agree with Mrs Carnell's proposal to use that $14.2m to prop up her disastrous health budget? Is this not a position of gross hypocrisy?

MR MOORE: Thank you, Ms Follett, for that question; and a very good question it is. Ms Follett, unfortunately, it has been the practice of Chief Ministers in this place to use capital works budgets to cover losses made in other parts of the budget. The point the Planning and Environment Committee was trying to make in its Report No. 10 on capital works - there has even been another report since then; so a report, on average, almost once a month - was that this is an inappropriate way to act. What it means, effectively, is loss of jobs, and the practice ought to stop.

The choice for me, if I look at it, is whether I should change from one government to another government that has done the same thing or whether we should try to change the practice. What we have come down to, and it was a unanimous decision of the Planning and Environment Committee, is that we should change the practice. We recommend to governments that they use an appropriate method of ensuring that the moneys allocated to the capital works budget continue to go into capital works and do not wind up being used, as they have been used so many times, to cover up blow-outs in the recurrent budget.

MS FOLLETT: I ask a supplementary question, on a point of clarification, Mr Speaker. I ask Mr Moore: Was the answer to the second part of my question yes?

MR MOORE: No, there is no hypocrisy at all associated with that. As I tried to explain to you, the choice I have is between a government that got this wrong previously, of which you were Chief Minister, and a government that has got it wrong this time. This Government has at least said, "Okay, we recognise what your report has recommended and we will do something about it". Indeed, I presume that we would get exactly the same response now from the Opposition if they were in government, because I know that Mr Berry - who knows, he may well be the next Leader of the Opposition or the next Chief Minister; I would certainly be happy to vote for him at the appropriate time - will be keen to see that implemented, since he was a member of that committee.

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