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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3833 ..

Mr Berry: I would not criticise them when you have got Bruce in your background.

MS CARNELL: Mr Berry again makes an interesting interjection. Mr Speaker, you have to look at this. This is money straight off the bottom line. No new assets are involved. It is just money lost to taxpayers. Mr Speaker, we talk a lot about ministerial responsibility and the responsibility of people in this place. That is the sort of risk that we are facing. We know that we are facing it. We have been told by Labor governments, by analysts, by newspapers, by everybody that we are facing enormous risks. It is happening in other places. If we ignore that now, I would have to say, it is not just ministerial responsibility; it is Assembly responsibility. The people of Canberra could rightly hold every member of this place responsible for losing our major asset.

Mr Quinlan: Are you going to do it right this time?

MS CARNELL: Tell us what is right and we will do it.

Speedrail Project

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Chief Minister and it has to do with the risk of public money that she was talking about a minute ago. Chief Minister, you will be aware, I am sure, that three weeks ago, give or take a day or two, the Speedrail group lodged its final submission to construct and operate a high-speed rail link between Canberra and Sydney, the so-called proving-up period is over. I am sure that you will also be aware that the national media is now reporting that the Speedrail proposal has been stopped dead in its tracks, to coin a phrase, because of insurmountable financial difficulties. Apparently, one senior Commonwealth Government official has described the Speedrail bid as "stone dead". Chief Minister, given that the Speedrail consortium is asking for a $1 billion handout in the form of tax breaks and special funding, what chance do you give the project of proceeding at the moment?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I would have to say that that is an absolutely hypothetical question because the process - and I know that Mr Kaine cares deeply about process - is that the proving-up proposal from Speedrail has been given to a working party comprising the Federal Government, the New South Wales Government and the ACT. That entity is now working through that proposal and will make recommendations early in the new year. That is the process and we always want to stick with process.

MR KAINE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I am sure that the Chief Minister is always interested in process, but she just made the point that the recommendation will eventually come to her and two other people. Having that in mind, Chief Minister, will you give an unequivocal, and I mean unequivocal, undertaking not only to this place but also to the people of Canberra that the ACT Government will participate in the very high speed train project only on the originally agreed basis, that is, no net cost to government, which means no cost to the ACT taxpayer?

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