Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1677 ..
Ms Carnell: Nobody agreed with you in the Estimates Committee.
MR BERRY: Mrs Carnell says nobody was ever interested. I know that the Government is not interested, but I am interested in the standing of government in this place and I can tell you those sorts of things would not happen under a Labor government.
Ms Carnell: I am saying the Estimates Committee did not agree with you - nobody, except Mr Corbell.
MR BERRY: Mrs Carnell says nobody agreed with me, except Mr Corbell. If it is so meaningless, why did you even bother responding in your response to the Estimates Committee report?
MR SPEAKER: The member's time has expired. Do you want your other 10 minutes?
MR BERRY: I will speak later, Mr Speaker.
MR KAINE (5.34): I will be fairly brief, but there are a couple of matters that I think warrant some comment in connection with this particular line item in the budget. It is a great pity that a couple of the crossbenchers - they have been mentioned before - whom the Government relies upon to get their decisions implemented seek to absent themselves from this debate. When it comes to the punchline and they have to lodge their vote, they go weak at the knees and decline to send the message to the Government that what the Government does sometimes is not fairly acceptable. I would like to see them show a bit more of that stuff that the Chief Minister talks about from time to time - it is not a word in my vocabulary, but it is one that I am sure they will understand because they hear it often - and that is, they should have the guts to stand up and put their money where their mouth is once in a while. This part of the budget is where this weak-kneed attitude reflects itself most.
I think that the arts community in Canberra could look at the budget with a jaundiced eye when, on page 17 of the budget papers under the heading "Chief Minister's Department", they see the highlights for 1998-99. The highlights, mind you, include implementing the arts development strategy and developing Civic as a major cultural precinct. At the same time, they take $1.6m off the arts and cultural budget of the Territory.
Now, where is the consistency? I know what the Chief Minister is going to say because we now have this mantra. The mantra is: "The operating deficit", "The budget deficit", "the bottom line budget deficit". Every time you mention money you get: "Nobody cares about the budget deficit" - the only person that cares about that is the Chief Minister.
It is very interesting that within the Chief Minister's own budget she will take $1.6m out of the arts budget while at the same time she says they are going to implement an arts development strategy and develop Civic as a major cultural precinct. But the bottom line, "There is an operating deficit", seemingly, is in no way affected by spending half a million dollars on the Feel the Power of Canberra campaign that Ms Tucker mentioned; nor completing the redevelopment of the Bruce Stadium, with the budget blowing out like nobody's business. Obviously that does not affect the bottom line operating deficit.