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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 400 ..



which saw this Government enter, just over a year ago, an exclusive preliminary agreement with a single promoter to pioneer a form of land development previously untried in the ACT. In fact, it is still under analysis, I believe - by a government agency, no less - as to whether it was appropriate for the ACT. That is the culture behind the failed Hall/Kinlyside venture. The Chief Minister's can-do culture saw the Government open an embassy in Sydney; the can-do culture built an outdoor facility for an indoor sport; the can-do culture saw the Government pay to have an aeroplane painted and then ask for the money back when it was discovered that the plane could not fly; and the can-do culture saw ACT Forests sponsor a tennis match to promote the sale of firewood, we think. The bizarre can-do culture of the Canberra Liberals ignores the essential element which make sense of such cultures and which the Chief Minister also promised in her 1995 budget speech - an open and accountable system of government.

Mr Speaker, there may be nothing wrong with a can-do culture, but it needs to go hand in hand with a transparent process or, as we all know, "can do" becomes "just do it". The evidence is there that this Government's can-do culture inevitably fails. Twelve months after that first budget, in September 1996, the Treasurer delivered "not so much a tough budget as a budget for tough times". That was the description for the 1996 budget. As we all know, at that time the Territory was reeling under the impact of the Howard Liberal Government's assault on the public sector, and Canberra in particular. In response, the Chief Minister undertook to approach her Liberal colleague John Howard, looking for support to establish a joint task force to examine the payment of ACT taxes and charges by Commonwealth agencies. Three years later, much to the regret of many of us, particularly the 10,000 people in Canberra who no longer have jobs, there are fewer agencies, but those that are here still get a free ride.

Perhaps the highlight of the Chief Minister's strategy was the announcement that, having sold and leased back the Government's vehicle fleet, a further decision had to be taken to sell and lease back Macarthur House and the Magistrates Court. A little more of the family silver was sent to market. Reassuringly, the Government that gave Canberra the can-do culture was also "committed to open, transparent government and independent scrutiny".

In 1997, the Chief Minister pulled another rabbit out of the hat. There were to be no asset sales that year, a budget year characterised by the beating which the local economy was still taking from the Commonwealth and which was acknowledged by the Chief Minister. There was to be no sale of assets and no leasing back of government property. But there was another trick, of course. The Government looked to ACTEW and took back $100m of equity. The 1997 budget speech was also characterised by reference to the Government's business incentive scheme, the scheme which gave stamp relief for building high-cost apartments in the city - the great Waldorf building across the road - and forewent hundreds of thousands of dollars in land valuation to attract a business from Queanbeyan to the Phillip testing station. That is the policy in this town that passes for industry policy, that we bribe people across the border from Queanbeyan.

Mr Speaker, last year's budget was, of course, the "clever and caring budget". It was the budget which hiked up registration fees on the family station wagon, which slashed funding to the School of Arts, which put up rent for public housing, and which made

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