Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1448 ..
MR HIRD (continuing):
Those are the words of Abraham Lincoln. Although they were uttered by the great leader in the United States in 1843, they are no less credible and important today. Importantly, Mr Speaker, they are applicable to government in this great Territory. Governments, no more or less than individuals, cannot expect to live forever on a credit card. Sooner or later, reality takes over, with the realisation that financial constraint has to be applied to rein in the budget deficit. That is one reason why I rise to dissent from the irresponsible and misleading majority report of the Select Committee on Estimates.
I believe this is the first time that the chairman of the Estimates Committee has presented a dissenting report, with the support of his colleague Mr Corbell, to the committee's report to the parliament. I find it hard to believe that a committee chairman would stoop to disgusting practices of politicising the select committee's report on the Government's budget estimates. Not even when Ms Roberta McRae, also from the ALP, was the chair of the committee, did we see the report politicised. To her credit, Mr Speaker, Ms McRae made a conscious effort to ensure that the committee's hearings and the report to the parliament was apolitical, and I commend her for that.
The course that the current chairman, Mr Berry, has chosen is a despicable attempt by Mr Berry to use his personal dislike of the Chief Minister and Treasurer, Mrs Carnell, to influence the select committee into tabling such a report to promote his own political ends. Mr Speaker, as I pointed out in my dissenting report - - -
Mr Corbell: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Mr Hird is imputing an improper motive to Mr Berry and that is quite outside standing orders. He suggested that Mr Berry was attempting improperly to influence the committee. That is clearly not the case. It is quite unparliamentary, and he should be asked to withdraw it.
Mr Moore: Mr Berry has made the same imputations about everybody else. The hypocrisy of raising a point of order like that is not to be missed.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Hird, please be careful what you say.
MR HIRD: I take your guidance, as always, Mr Speaker. As I pointed out in my dissenting report, comments by the committee once again highlighted how little regard has been paid by some members to addressing the Territory's operating loss. Surprise, surprise! But we have come to expect that from Mr Berry and his colleagues opposite. Mr Speaker, I remind the parliament that, because of Mr Berry's party's neglect over the years it was in office, the Carnell Government inherited a $344m black hole. Since coming to office in 1995, by diligent accounting and accountable expenditure, the Chief Minister, Mrs Carnell - the Carnell Government - has reduced this deficit to $153m as at the 1997-98 budget. There is still some way to go to make this Territory self-supporting, but that, Mr Speaker, is what responsible government is all about. It is also of some concern that, after three budgets, some members of the Estimates Committee, particularly those opposite, still do not understand that the ACT runs an accrual budgeting financial management system.