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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3040 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

Against the background of the claims by this Government on behalf of its Ministers that it wants to be more open and accountable, if I hear Ministers bleating in this chamber about the requirement to provide additional information, I will feel like puking. We are calling you on this one. It is something that has been recommended by the Estimates Committee, I suspect by all of members of it, and it is a sensible measure of which the Government, if its claim about openness and accountability is genuine, would be supportive. I rather think that this is, as I said earlier, code for saying, "We do not want to expose ourselves to any more scrutiny. We do not want to explain where we have not performed in accordance with our predictions. We do not want members of the Opposition and the crossbench to put us under the microscope any further in relation to the performance of this Government on outputs".

Mr Quinlan's Bill seeks to put the Government under the microscope further and to demonstrate to the community which elects us and pays for those services that the Government is prepared to provide information which is relevant. I raise again the point that I made a little earlier, that is, that the outputs are the issue that is most relevant to the community. That is why it is extremely important that outputs are mentioned in the context of the budget documents, that is, outputs for the current financial year. That involves the extrapolation of figures which are already collected by the Government.

I go back to the earlier point that I made in relation to costs. It is always a tactic used by the Government to say, "We cannot do that because it would cost too much". That was not something it bothered about when it committed the Territory to something like $70m worth of expenditure over a period of time for the Bruce Stadium. It has not been something that the Government has been particularly concerned about when it has committed the Territory to other grandiose plans and expenditure throughout the ACT.

For an expenditure of $100,000, if that would be the cost - we will take it at face value for the moment - to be used as an excuse to avoid accountability is just a joke, given this Government's appalling performance on expenditure on grandiose plans in the Australian Capital Territory. If anything, any additional means of scrutiny which puts this Government under the microscope is extremely important. Governments that have performed like this one cannot escape scrutiny. They have to understand that their Government is a minority government and that the Opposition and the crossbenchers will want to place them under the microscope even more, given their record. It is the Government's form, their background, that really drives us to make these sorts of amendments. It would be an irresponsible opposition and set of crossbench members that allowed a government that performs like this one to escape further scrutiny. That is why the Estimates Committee has made this recommendation. That is why it needs to be supported.

Mr Speaker, this Bill involves the extrapolation of information that the Government already collects. Mr Humphries' bleatings on this subject were unimpressive. Evidence of the inability of the Treasurer to carry the argument on this issue is his refusal to bring forward the details of the costs that he claims will occur. Again, if this had been a favourite little project of the Government, you would not have heard a murmur about the possible costs. I would urge members to discount anything that Mr Humphries has said in relation to costs because - - -

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