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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 1495 ..

MR WHITECROSS (continuing):

The estimates committee process that we have just been through in relation to Appropriation Bill (No. 2) was an important process, a process which ought to have been able to unfold the detail of what was going on with the budget; why this second appropriation was necessary; how it was going to be spent - all those things. It should have been easy, with a government allegedly committed to openness and which claimed that the whole basis of their approach was one of letting it all hang out and showing the ACT community what was actually going on; but the reality was very different.

One of Mrs Carnell's key complaints in her response to the Estimates Committee was that we did not want an estimates committee process at all; that she had done us a favour by letting us have an estimates committee process. This is not the case. The Estimates Committee's contention, and the Opposition's contention more particularly, is that, whatever process Mrs Carnell chose to use to rearrange her budget, it was open to this Assembly to scrutinise that process; it was open to this Assembly to set up an estimates committee or some other select committee process or refer it to the Public Accounts Committee to find out what they had done, what had gone on, why the blow-out had occurred, where the money was coming from and whether there were problems anywhere else in the budget.

Those questions are questions that this Assembly has the right to ask and the responsibility to ask at any time. We did not need Mrs Carnell's Appropriation Bill to ask those questions. We did not need Mrs Carnell's blessing to ask those questions. It is our responsibility and our right as members in this place to ask those questions. The issue has never been whether Mrs Carnell had a responsibility to disclose what was going on with the budget. The only question has been whether the method that she chose was an appropriate method for making that disclosure.

Mrs Carnell says that the Estimates Committee report was disappointing. For Mrs Carnell, it probably was, because it did not agree with her; and, as we all know and as people all over Canberra have been increasingly finding out, Mrs Carnell is not too happy about people disagreeing with her; she does not like being disagreed with; she does not like people having a different point of view. When they do, she tends to dump on them; she tends to describe them as disappointing, having missed the point, being dumb, and having copped out, like Mr Moore. This is Mrs Carnell's standard rhetoric for dealing with people who disagree with her. Mrs Carnell would do better to try listening to some of her critics; she would do better to think about what they are saying. We are not surprised that she does not listen. We cannot even get her to listen to a question properly so that she can answer it.

The Estimates Committee provided a firm basis on which Mrs Carnell could have resolved the problem that now confronts us with this Appropriation Bill. The Estimates Committee made it clear, on the basis of evidence that Mrs Carnell and her advisers provided, that the Appropriation Bill was not necessary; that she had the money in her Appropriation Bill; that she could get it from A to B; and that, therefore, she did not need this Appropriation Bill. She has failed to address the concerns that have been raised about

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