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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1577 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

I would have to say that his performance was embarrassing. Not only was it embarrassing to have to endure a want-of-confidence debate, but then we were presented with a budget reply speech that I would have to say ranks as the worst I have ever heard in this place. Even poor old Andrew Whitecross made a better fist of it than that. Mr Speaker, this is important because budgets are a basic part of the way any government is run in this country. For the last year, I have sat back and watched Mr Stanhope in his role as Leader of the Opposition in a bid to see what fist he would make of the job. As I was Leader of the Opposition for just over 18 months, I feel that I am pretty well qualified to make comments about the job and maybe what is required.

Mr Speaker, let me go back in time for a moment. Mr Stanhope came into this chamber on 28 April last year and made some bold statements about his leadership and the direction he would take the Labor Party. I would like to quote just one of those. Mr Stanhope said:

I make it clear from the outset of this Fourth Assembly that the Australian Labor Party accepts, without making excuses, its punishment from the people of the ACT; we deserved it. In the court from which there is no appeal, the people's verdict was to demand a much better performance from ACT Labor. They deserve it and they will get it.

He went on to say in the same speech:

We are here to make a new beginning. I am determined that the charge of selfishness, complacency and taking the people for granted can never again be brought against the Australian Labor Party in Canberra.

Mr Speaker, have we seen a new beginning 12 months on? Have we seen a better performance from the Labor Party? No, we have not. In fact, today we have had what was literally an embarrassment to our whole system of government. That there was no vision, no leadership and no hope was the general message from Mr Stanhope in his budget reply today. There was no alternative view, no plan for responsible financial management. The speech was bad. Obviously no work had been put into it. I would have to say that we all had trouble responding to it. That is the reason Ministers on the whole did not speak. What could we say? I honestly expected better. I had expected much better from Mr Stanhope over the last 12 months, and so had the Canberra community.

One of the jobs of Opposition - and I know that those opposite believe that it is just to oppose - is to be the alternative government. The day that the Opposition respond to the government is the day that they get an opportunity to show what they are made of, to show what they would do in government, to express the vision that they would bring to this Territory and that the people of Canberra could expect from them in government. Mr Speaker, we did not have one idea, one new approach, one anything. Mr Speaker, I have been leader of the party on this side of the chamber for six years and over that whole time, whether in government or in opposition, we always told the people of Canberra what we stood for. You cannot say that for those opposite, Mr Speaker.

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