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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1936 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

is room for the ACT Government to provide far greater attention to the needs of women's sport. I think there is a need for much more positive discrimination in favour of women's sport. I think we need a whole range of new indicators in relation to the funding that is devoted to women's sport and a genuine strategy for ensuring that women in the ACT do achieve a real and fair allocation of the sports dollar.

MR CORBELL (5.59): Mr Speaker, in the spirit of some of the debate that has occurred on this appropriation item, I will take the opportunity to make some comments following on from Mr Rugendyke's comments earlier. I am very pleased to have heard Mr Rugendyke's philosophy about the budget placed on the record. We had not heard that throughout the debate until we reached this point. I am pleased to hear that. I think it is appropriate that he, as a member who is going to be voting in favour of this budget, place his philosophy on the record. Maybe it took a bit of prompting in debate, but at least it is here, and I think that is appropriate.

I think I have to support the comment made by Ms Tucker in the debate - I think this is a view shared by all of my colleagues on this side of the house - that the crossbenchers do have a role in critically inquiring of the activities and actions of the Government, and they were effectively scrutinising its activities. More importantly, as Ms Tucker pointed out, they have an influence that other members in this house do not have. That may not be something that many of us are comfortable with, but it is the reality of this place. I think that is often a point that has been missed in this debate. For instance, I urged Mr Rugendyke to consider that he could oppose the line item in the Chief Minister's Department, if he was so concerned about the cut to the Institute of the Arts, without bringing the Government down, but he was not prepared even to consider it.

The other issue I want to respond to is the issue of debt. Mr Speaker, it is appropriate that governments are conscious of issues to do with debt, and governments must be responsible in managing their debt. I would draw to Mr Rugendyke's attention a series of articles by Mr Fred Argy that have appeared in the Canberra Times over the past couple of weeks. He might like to look at these in the library if he has a chance. Mr Fred Argy is not some left-wing loony economist. Mr Fred Argy is a former director of a significant Federal Government body involved in economic planning and he is now the head of the Centre for Economic Development of Australia. He is a respected Australian economist and he has written that governments have become obsessed with debt. They have become so obsessed that they are ignoring the social consequences of cutting simply to reduce debt and balance the bottom line. He argues that a range of things have to be considered in this debate. I think it would be worth while for Mr Rugendyke to read that if he has the opportunity. Maybe that would give him a better perspective on debt, operating losses, and a whole range of things. It is not as simplistic as governments will often attempt to portray it in an effort to get their budgets passed and to justify the decisions they make.

In addressing the appropriation unit directly, I want to continue briefly on the Woden and Civic youth centres. I particularly want to focus on the review that the Government has announced into the Woden and Civic youth centres, despite the fact that this review comes on top of another review on the provision of youth centre services in the ACT, and despite the fact that this review recommends against making the provision of these services contestable, which is contrary to what the Government has decided to do.

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