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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 398 ..


: To knock the Government off, as Mr Berry said, absolutely. This Assembly has a capacity to do all of those things. Mr Speaker, members of the crossbenches and members of the Opposition have made some comments about the budget, about consultation. This side of the house is listening. We have spoken at length to many community groups. We have had lots of budget submissions. We take those on board extremely seriously. There will always be disagreements on particular lines in any budget. Some people will say that they would not spend money, say, on Bruce Stadium - the $12.3m that we have put on the table there. But, Mr Speaker, that is this year. We are talking about next year here. I agree that there will be different priorities. But, at the end of the day, it is quite simple. If we do not spend less and/or raise more, we will have a problem with our budget.

I just want to finish by making it clear and probably just reminding members of the Assembly that the capital works expenditures actually do not fall to the bottom line. As we would know, in an accrual budget, having discussions about which capital works item we would necessarily spend - whether we would spend money here or there - capital works do not fall to the bottom line. That might be a simple debate, but it is not appropriate and it is not real for a debate on the operating loss or a debate on the budget direction.

Mr Speaker, I look forward to hearing the views of the Opposition and the crossbench members on how we do address this budget gap. In opposition we brought down an alternative budget. We put our ideas on the table. That was tough, because we did have quite significant expenditure reductions - some of which we have achieved since we came to government, some of which we have not. But, Mr Speaker, we put our budget direction on the table, with the reductions, with the extra expenditure. It was not a pile of paper a foot thick. It was a single page, with all of the appropriate debates. But, Mr Speaker, we told the people of Canberra where we would cut money and where we would spend money. We put our money where our mouth was, and the people of Canberra reacted to that. Mr Speaker, I hope that we do not see in this debate a situation where those opposite spend the whole debate getting stuck into what the Government has not done.

Mr Berry: You asked us to.

MS CARNELL: I assume, from the sound of Mr Berry, that that is what Mr Berry is going to do. But, Mr Speaker, what this motion is about is asking members of the Assembly to have constructive input into what they believe should be in the budget. That is a really definite responsibility for members of this place.

I finish, Mr Speaker, by saying, as the Auditor-General said: If we do not address our operating loss, we will end up with reductions in the quality of life in the ACT in the future. I am not willing to allow that to happen. The Auditor-General also said that, if this Assembly is not willing to allow major asset sales, as it has decided that it will not at this stage, then there are only two areas to address - these are not my words, Mr Speaker, but the Auditor-General's words - expenditure and revenue. Mr Speaker, this Assembly - those opposite anyway - has opposed every revenue measure that we have put in place, every single one.

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