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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 961 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

That is a criticism that can rightly be made about the process that has been employed in relation to the Belconnen aquatic centre, too. The Government has referred the issue of the Belconnen aquatic centre to another committee for advice on the extent to which competition principles may be affected by that proposal. That report has not yet been made available and, once again, in terms of the process adopted by the Government, there is a real inconsistency there that does affect this Assembly's capacity to make decisions in relation to that.

There are a couple of other issues that I will mention briefly. One is the very concerning recommendation in relation to the lack of attention to the cork plantation. I say this as somebody interested in that plantation, but also as a resident of Belconnen, and I do acknowledge a parochial interest. I do not believe sufficient attention has been paid to that by the community. Quickly, in conclusion, I note, with some dismay the fact that we have not been able to expend appropriately the budget in relation to exotic weeds in the ACT. Having regard to the extent to which weeds are infesting all areas of Canberra, that is something that really does surprise and disappoint me.

MR BERRY (12.00): When Mr Hird rose and spoke in relation to this report, I thought he may have been talking about a very different report; that maybe he had got reports mixed up before he wrote his speech. I think this report makes some quite adequate criticisms of the Government's performance, and, having read part of it, Mr Hird's bubbling enthusiasm for the functionality of the capital works budget has not, I think, covered up some of the warranted criticisms which have been made in the report.

The Chief Minister made a feeble attempt to defend the Government's position in relation to the blatantly dishonest pork-barrelling which was used before the last election by the Liberals. She rose to her feet and attempted to justify their position. For example, the Chief Minister talked about the inconsistencies of the committee's report in relation to the Belconnen aquatic centre and the Ainslie Primary School issue, but exposed her own inconsistency in relation to the matters. The fact of the matter is that these were election promises. The only difference in the case of the Ainslie commitment, if one was given by the Liberals before the election, is that it was only made once. The Belconnen pool one was made twice.

If I may disagree with my leader for a moment, he said construction of the pool should be under way now, but, if the Liberals' promise was worth anything in the first place, people should be swimming in it now. It should have been built after the first time the promise was made. This approach to making election promises has been proven to be dishonest. It has been highlighted by this report. It shows the lie of the Government's approach to elections in the ACT.

There is also mention of a feasibility study in relation to the aquatic centre which the Government has been keeping under wraps. I have, today, placed on notice a motion requiring the Government to table that report in order that the Assembly can get an indication of the information that the Government is sitting on. Enough has been said about the Belconnen aquatic centre, but this approach to capital works and election promises has permeated the Government's thinking right throughout its period of office.

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