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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 128 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

That is what some people seem to be saying. They are Kendrick's words, not mine. Certainly, there has been some mishandling; but the department has worked to overcome that. It is interesting that the last time I stood up in this place to speak about the COOOL project was when Ms Tucker and others in this place were telling me categorically, "You must not move people into these new houses unless you have signed, sealed and delivered treatment agreements, or agreements, in place. Do not do it, Government".

What the department has been trying to do is get in place agreements that obviously are inside budget. As we heard, Kendrick made it very clear that there is nothing wrong with the budget. The budget is fine, or, in his view, is quite adequate to achieve the ends. So, we have been trying to do exactly what the Assembly said it wanted last time we discussed this. The Assembly seems to have changed the position now a bit, which is good, because it is in line with what we want to do - and that is to move in at least some of the people that we can as quickly as possible. That is the approach that we have been trying to take for a long time.

But, again, as Mr Humphries said, one of the things we must not do this time is move people in with a wrong expectation or maybe, for whatever reason, a different expectation from what is possible or what is going to be a reality. So, again, I suppose, the issues here are that we are all as one; the previous Government made the decision to go down this path on what may have been a suboptimal model; we certainly picked it up enthusiastically and ran with it; I still believe that it can be made to work; and I am sure that everybody in this place wants it to work, as I know the department does.

So, I make the point again: I think it is important not to suggest that the department is just hopeless on this issue. Kendrick himself has made the point that it had done a lot to overcome the problems before the Kendrick report and has continued to do that. Mr Moore made the point that it was the department itself that asked for Kendrick to look at this issue when it realised that things were not going as well as they could be.

Mr Moore tells me that he is very happy for any questions that Ms Tucker has to be answered in full whenever she wants them to be answered. Again, I think it is important for us all to just take a step back from this - not to level blame, but to look for answers and look for outcomes. They have to be inside budget. There is no doubt about that. An amount of $700,000 for eight people is a lot of money. It is an appropriate amount of money. We have some great houses. Let us see whether we can come up with a solution that, No. 1, is in the interests of the people who are going to live there.

MR WOOD (11.39), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank members for their indication that they will support this motion. Mr Moore focused on the word "urgency". I remind him that I think "urgency" means a little more than maybe a couple of months to resolve the issues. It is, indeed, a lot longer than the timeframe that I would have had in mind. Mr Humphries commented that you could not, as I suggested, have the house finished and ready one day and have the people move in the next day. But bear in mind that this project goes back to 1994. I suppose that it takes eight, nine or 10 months to build houses. So, there was plenty of planning time available.

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