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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1423 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

spend $2 million in haste on setting up the boarding house program and has not even done the work to say how much it will cost once it is set up. That does give you a clear impression of programs being cobbled together in haste. I return to my original thesis that, quite clearly, the government has been for a number of months on a program of trying to ensure that there is no money in the bank, although we might all have been released this morning by the Chief Minister for the election.

I think he said this morning that our investments have gone up so much that there is ready cash there; we have just got to go to the bank and take it out. For all of the candidates who were concerned when they received news of the budget on Tuesday and saw that there was no spare money in the outyears, there may well be, according to the Chief Minister today; so go back to your original programs and possible initiatives for the election. I think Mr Humphries is saying that he could fund them or that they could be funded within our current capacity, which is great news.

I close by saying that we think that this appropriation bill has got a few things wrong with it. The motivation behind quite a lot of it is quite obvious. But for the serious reasons that I expressed at the beginning of this speech, we will actually be supporting the passage of this bill.

MS TUCKER (11.53): Mr Speaker, the normal process of appropriating money for government expenditure is to have one annual budget. Where unforeseen expenses arise during the year, there is scope for having additional appropriation bills, but normally these bills are few and far between. From looking at the appropriation bill before us, I have to question the urgency of many of the expenditure items listed in it. The government divides the items in this bill into three categories. There are those of a technical nature, there are those for unforeseen budget pressures and there are those that are considered worthwhile to pursue at this time. It is with the last category that I have concerns, because there is less than two months to go to the end of this financial year and it would be difficult to spend all the money included in this extra appropriation.

Two days ago we had the government release its budget for 2001-02 in which many of these expenditure items have been or could be accommodated. The technical items primarily relate to accounting for GST payments which are budget neutral. Whilst not being a fan of the GST, obviously we have to work with it because we have it. There is also a further appropriation for Bruce Stadium. Mr Quinlan just spoke at some length on that. It is the result of a reduction in the expected revenue. It is a total financial disaster and it looks like it is going to continue as such. As Mr Quinlan said, $82 million is now the bottom end of the cost. I just do not think that there are words strong enough to express how the whole exercise has been a total and dismal failure. No doubt, this government will live on in history as having failed totally in this regard.

Turning to the new initiatives in this extra appropriation, there are some that are good. The particular item that I have concern about, of course, is the one for Bruce Stadium. There is money for nurses, but not enough to cover the pay bill of the Canberra Hospital. There is money for the Gallop inquiry, which is necessary. There is an appropriation for corrective services and youth justice services for the rising costs of holding offenders, which also seems necessary.

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