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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2232 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

That is very significant expenditure. That is about one-tenth of the agency's budget of about $0.5 billion. The expenditure on those projects is a very significant amount and I will be interested to hear what the Minister for sport has to say about them, other than to repeat what has been put forward on many occasions before about what a wonderful stadium we have got. If that was the only criterion, perhaps we should have spent $100m on it. We would have had an even better one and we could have crowed not only for the rest of this century but half way into the next one about the fact that we have the best stadium in the world - certainly the most expensive one. Surely that is not the criterion that determines whether the money is well spent.

Mr Speaker, I expressed my concerns about the budget when I voted against Part 3, which is the Chief Minister's departmental budget. Again, it is an incongruity that the Chief Minister's Department's budget contains the $50m, $58m, $60m or whatever it is in connection with Bruce Stadium which, surely, must be a part of the sport Minister's responsibility. I expressed my view then and it is on the record. Having done that, regardless of how I feel about the totality of the budget and the priorities expressed in it, I have little alternative but to support the budget because to fail to do so would be, perhaps, to deny the Government supply, and that has not been something that I have threatened or attempted to do in the past. But I am interested in hearing what the Minister for sport has to say about the massive expenditure, one-tenth of his budget, on that one project.

MR RUGENDYKE (10.00): Mr Speaker, I rise to put on the record my overall support for this budget. This budget has been scrutinised heavily during the Estimates Committee process and I have already acknowledged my commendation for the manner in which Mr Corbell conducted those hearings. I do not wish to dwell on issues already raised through estimates and repeated in the Assembly today, but I would like to reiterate briefly some pertinent points. For example, the reduction of the operating loss and financial stability are crucial to my support for this budget and of any future government in the Assembly. This applies to whichever party is in power.

We had a situation in the Assembly this week where there could have been a change of government. I have already told Mr Stanhope that, if or when the time comes for the Labor Party to assume the reins, I will not tolerate irresponsible spending. We cannot have the ACT in the situation of having a $350m operating deficit again. But I must also put on the record that I believe Mr Stanhope has rekindled the Labor Party as a credible opposition, particularly during Wednesday's debate, and asserted himself as a constructive leader.

In mentioning the operating loss, I stress again that we must be mindful of turning this quest for reaching the black into an obsession. There does have to be a balance, and I must pay tribute to the way in which the ACT Council of Social Service demonstrated this point to the Estimates Committee. The minority government system is in place to enhance balanced thinking and balanced decisions. ACTCOSS made the comment in estimates hearings, "Our enduring concern is that there is no link being drawn between the financial management strategy and social conditions". In this area, Mr Speaker, I encourage the Government to explore further. Social conditions relate to the ACT Government's new housing policy, which, I am pleased to say, has been referred to a committee this week for further consideration.

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