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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 625 ..

MR OSBORNE (4.48): I am tempted to incorporate my speech in Hansard.

Mr Humphries: Yes, go on. We will support that.

Mr Wood: You can. I see your point.

MR OSBORNE: No, I will read it.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Osborne, you have the call.

MR OSBORNE: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I think it would be easy for us to be a little bit cynical about this exercise today. I recall that when we spoke about it a number of days ago certain members of the Opposition and the United Canberra Party chose to do that, pointing out that perhaps this was an attempt by the Government to embarrass this Assembly for refusing to rubber-stamp its plans for ACTEW, but I think this is a challenge that we, as an Assembly, should be prepared to take up.

Instead of standing in this chamber today and being negative, I think we should at least be positive that today is a step forward. I do not think it is good enough just to say, "You cannot do this, you cannot do that", without at least giving the Government some idea of what is acceptable to this chamber. We are a small parliament and the reality is that there will probably be minority governments for the foreseeable future, so we should embrace change and over the next year or so refine the budget process.

I think the reality is that the sale of ACTEW was a financial mirage. It did not solve the underlying problem in the ACT budget - that we spend more than we earn. It would be the equivalent of hocking the family silver to pay the electricity bill. Selling ACTEW was the easy way out. What this Government has to do, and what this chamber has to allow it to do, is to make sure that we cut the gap between what we earn and what we spend so that one day we can earn at least equal to what we spend. That is good financial management. That is making the really hard decisions. There are only two ways to do that - raise more money and/or cut costs - and, as I said, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I believe that we have all but exhausted our revenue-raising options. If the Government honestly wanted our input into specifically addressing the points of this motion, they would put the resources of their departments at our disposal. I could come up with a budget too.

Mr Wood: I think age is catching up with you. Do you want to borrow these?

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: You might wish to borrow Mr Kaine's glasses, Mr Osborne.

MR OSBORNE: No, my speech has been printed on letterhead paper, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker.

Mr Kaine: The trouble is that someone else wrote his speech, Harold.

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