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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2329 ..

At 5.00 pm the debate was interrupted in accordance with standing order 34; the motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MR KAINE (5.00): The debates in this place get curiouser and curiouser. I find it rather fascinating that we are debating whether the Assembly ought to subject an Appropriation Bill to some scrutiny. Let me make it clear that I have already indicated to the Treasurer that I support the Appropriation Bill. I support the projects for which the money is being sought. But that is not to say that the Assembly ought not to have the right to examine the proposition in detail. It is an Appropriation Bill and it is for a significant sum of money. I support the notion that this Assembly should have the right to look at that proposal in some detail.

That is not going to take long. Mr Berry has indicated that he envisages the Estimates Committee dealing with this matter in about a week. I think that is not unreasonable. I know that the Government sees some urgency with it because there are negotiations hanging off at least the racetrack proposal, but I do not think that a week is too long to wait. It does disturb me a bit that the Chief Minister, the former Treasurer, can say in a debate like this that individual briefings to members are somehow a substitute for public disclosure of all the detail that this Assembly might require in connection with an appropriation like this.

To invite me along for a little private briefing is fine. I have been invited, and that as a proposition is fine. But the way an estimates committee works is such as to elicit from informed people - specifically, public officials and the appropriate Minister - information that often lies behind the raw figures that are presented. I do not think that the Government can reasonably expect the Assembly simply to rubber-stamp this Appropriation Bill.

I am not sure why we are having this debate. As I say, I support the Government's proposals. I think that they are taking the proper course of action in putting them to the Assembly as an Appropriation Bill, and I commend the new Treasurer for that, but I think that we are entitled to have a look at it. Given that the process will take only a week, I simply do not understand why the Government would object to it. I suggest we get on with the vote and let the Estimates Committee get on with its job.

MR CORBELL (5.03): Mr Speaker, I feel that it is appropriate to respond to some comments made by the Chief Minister during this debate. The first concerns the assumption of the Government that, as long as they put an appropriation to the Assembly, we will give it the tick. In fact, the Chief Minister's comment in the debate was: "We have done the right thing by the Assembly in giving you an appropriation, so why do you want to frustrate this process?".

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