Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2325 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
That was from our Chief Minister, who has asked us to hand over $7.5m of the Territory's money just like that. Mr Speaker, I think the case is well and truly made out for a committee of this nature - a select committee, in fact - to look closely at the appropriation which has been proposed by the Government. It cannot be dealt with lightly. On the performance of the Government, we have to be extremely sceptical about everything they do in relation to the management of the Territory's finances.
MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (4.45): The Government does not support the motion to refer this matter to a select committee. I will be brief in my reasons. First of all, given the procedure which it is clear the Assembly wishes us to adopt in these matters - that we seek a second appropriation for major expenditure - it is quite likely that we will be returning to the Assembly on a number of occasions throughout a financial year seeking a second, third, fourth, or whatever, appropriation. I suggest that members would find it a burden, after a period of time, to be constantly establishing select committees on estimates for each new Appropriation Bill that comes forward.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, I note that Mr Berry says that he will have no alternative but to approve of it at the end of the day, and I think that is true. Therefore, it is worth asking why we are having an estimates committee if that is going to be the case. I have to say that I suspect that what we are going to see is simply a great big bunfight about issues already debated on the hospice and, to a lesser extent, on the idea of car races or major events, large ticket items, being brought to the ACT. I suspect that, out of that heat, very little light will be generated.
We have a busy fortnight ahead of us. We have a great deal of work to do, particularly in the second week of this fortnight. I am not anxious to have either the Ministers who would be appearing before the committee or the members of the committee tired and a little bit cranky as a result of the fact that we have spent several hours between Thursday night and Tuesday morning on an estimates committee which Mr Berry himself concedes probably is not going to have any alternative but to approve of the expenditure. I think in the circumstances it would be easier to debate the issues on the floor of the Assembly than to have a separate reference to them.
We know what the issues are about the hospice. We have already seen them raised. We have had lots of debates about those things. There is, with respect, not much additional information available on those issues that would be realistically brought forward by an estimates process. Perhaps it is slightly more so in respect of V8 races, but the Government is prepared to put on the table the information available to it. I am not sure that examining Ministers would produce much more information of relevance to an estimates committee. I would suggest, therefore, that there is not a great deal of point in going through the circus of having an additional estimates committee simply for those reasons.
MR QUINLAN (4.47): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the motion. Let us start with the V8 Supercar race. We have been given numbers as recently as today and asked to accept them on their face value. What this Assembly will be doing and what people on the crossbench will be doing if they vote this motion down is accepting those numbers.