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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1599 ..

MR KAINE: All I can say, Mr Speaker, is: Hogwash, absolute hogwash. There are other ways and better ways and fairer ways - not based on any deception whatsoever - that put the facts quite squarely to the people who are going to have to pay it. Incidentally, there ought to be some justification as to why this amount of money needs to be raised other than by the normal means that have been available to the Government until now.

I just do not accept, because the Chief Minister tells us or because Mr Moore supports her in telling us, that we need an extra $10m for emergency services. Nor do I accept, Mr Speaker, that this unfair, inequitable levy through insurance policies is a fair or reasonable way of raising it, even if the extra $10m revenue were justified. For the Chief Minister to come out with all guns blazing and say, "The Estimates Committee system did not work; it is a waste of time; we are not going to take any notice of any of the recommendations that it made", I think, says something about the insecurity of this Government that believe they cannot allow the slightest dint in their armour because it will reveal some sort of a weakness.

Mr Speaker, for the first time in 10 years I was not a member of the Estimates Committee this year, but I did sit in on some of the sessions. I thought that the processes of the Estimates Committee were reasonable - no different from what has happened in previous years, although the Chief Minister has attempted to show that they were unusual this year, they were different. One can only conclude that, because the Chief Minister asserts the process was different, it was therefore unacceptable in some fashion.

The Estimates Committee did what it was established to do. It shredded out the budget, it questioned Ministers and officials strenuously and vigorously on what was contained in the budget, and it exposed some weaknesses in the budget. As I suggest, it exposed some whim, some personal whim about the budget, and I believe it has done an excellent job. I believe that the Estimates Committee report should have been given far more consideration by the Government than it seems prepared to give to it. Just shrugging it off as of no consequence is not a good enough response, Mr Speaker.

Mr Moore: It is not shrugged off.

MR KAINE: Little Sir Echo over here who last year was ripping the Government to shreds on its budget has taken up a new tune this year, has he not, Mr Speaker? Talk about the two lovebirds in the cage chirping to each other! Mr Speaker, I have to put on record my dissatisfaction with the Government's response to the Estimates Committee report. All I can say is that the debate over the next couple of days on such things as the Insurance Levy Bill and the Appropriation Bill is going to be a fairly interesting experience. I do not think that the Chief Minister is going to be able to shrug these issues off, as she seems to be attempting to do.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.01): I cannot miss the irony of Mr Kaine saying that I am doing the opposite when his performance was not exactly the same as the one that he delivered last year. As far as I am concerned, the Government has taken the report of the Select Committee on Estimates very seriously.

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