Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2393 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am sure that if a budget had been brought down in May which contained funding of this kind there would have been a very severe reaction from some people in this place, probably from the Opposition in particular. Anticipating that, it is important for the Assembly to have a chance to consider whether it wants to go down the path of a safe injecting place before money is made available for that purpose. The cost of a safe injecting place is not necessarily very large. It is not necessary to have a very significant commitment from somewhere else. It is possible for the Treasurer's Advance to be able to meet that cost if the Assembly decided it wanted to do that. The Chief Minister, as the former Treasurer, has already announced that she intended to deal with that issue in that way.
I am not sure what Mr Hargreaves is saying. Should we have put money in before a decision was made? Should we have not made a decision to do this until there is an appropriation to that effect? What is he saying? I think he is playing a very close game. Whatever we do is what they will disagree with, I suspect, at the end of the day, Mr Speaker. We have taken a cautious approach with this. We have not put money aside. If the Assembly decides to support the concept in the future - in other words, if a few people get off the fence and you decide what you want to do about the matter - we will be in a position to be able to make a decision and to decide whether funding should be put to that project.
MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, yesterday I congratulated the Minister for Urban Services on the brevity of his question, and I congratulate Mr Humphries for ducking that one. Mr Speaker, my supplementary question is this: Will the Minister now categorically confirm what I understood he just said - that he will not be bringing forward a supplementary Appropriation Bill to cover the cost of this safe injecting place? Also, when does the Government propose to proceed with Mr Moore's plan?
MR HUMPHRIES: As far as the second part of the question is concerned, you should ask the Minister for Health about that. I am not the Minister for Health and that is properly a matter for him. As far as the first part is concerned, you ask me to confirm what I have already said. Well, I confirm what I have already said. We anticipate dealing with this matter by way of a Treasurer's Advance. The cost is not likely to be significant. If the Assembly sees fit to support the proposal it is not likely that a second appropriation would be required, or a third appropriation, as that is what it probably would be.
Mr Speaker, I might indicate that the possibility of having to come back for further appropriations for significant projects cannot be ruled out at any stage. The project is of a significant size. The Government has to reserve the right, within the parameters of what the Assembly has already said to us about appropriating money for projects, to come back and appropriate money separately. It may be that in the context of the debate someone says to us, "We want you to appropriate separate money for this exercise". We have learnt our lesson well enough to know that we are not going to defy that kind of approach if that is what the Assembly wants us to do. We are working within that framework. We are waiting for the Assembly's view on this matter before we make a decision about the allocation of money and how much.