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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (23 May) . . Page.. 1691 ..

Report on 1996-97 Draft Capital Works Program - Government Response

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (3.31): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the Government's response to Report No. 10 of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment on the 1996-97 draft capital works program, which was presented to the Assembly on 26 March 1996. I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, in presenting the Government's response to the report of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment on the draft new capital works program for 1996-97, I wish to thank the committee for recognising the improvements that have been made. In the past, the committee has been highly critical of the rationale used to draw up the capital works program, and the Government has taken that into account in requiring much more robust justification for new proposals. To put it simply, changes were long overdue, and the committee's response this time around clearly supports the changes we have made to the capital works processes.

Last year's report was quite critical of the level of information provided and the quality of departmental responses at the public hearings. This was not allowed to continue in developing the 1996-97 draft program. We have required a greater level of up-front scrutiny of projects. We have not let projects come to the Assembly that are unjustified or not of benefit to the community or that are unlikely to be achieved. More importantly, we have put in place new procedures to overcome the timing problems which have seen many projects delayed in the past.

To ensure that the Government was in a good position to proceed with new works early in the new financial year, the draft program was referred to the committee well in advance of the start of the financial year. In addition, design work on a large number of projects has been brought forward, to ensure that the projects will be ready for construction as soon as possible in the new year. For 1996-97, major design work has been brought forward on a number of projects. These include a new high school in Gungahlin, due to commence construction in September and be open in 1998; a new police station in Tuggeranong, due to be tendered in August, with construction under way later this year and open in 1998; and major roadworks for Gungahlin, including the Gungahlin Drive connection to the Barton Highway.

Mr Speaker, as those in the Assembly already know, we are very hopeful of having in place procedures to actually make those timeframes even shorter, as planning has actually been brought forward into this financial year and we have already announced that tenders on a number of projects will go out in June rather than waiting until early in the next financial year, which would normally be the process.

MR SPEAKER: Order! There is too much audible conversation. The Chief Minister has the floor.

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