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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1597 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

But this is a prime example of the chairman's admitted bias. The elimination of these debts did not even get a guernsey in his report. He did not say a thing. Not surprisingly, a lot of other announcements in the budget did not rate a mention or were the subject of attempts at political vandalism. One that immediately comes to mind is the repeated attack on the free school bus initiative, which we promised in 1995 and which we are going to deliver. Since we made that promise, that lot over there have kept reminding us, either at question time or by interjection, "When are you going to give us the free buses?" Members on the other side of the chamber were told that we would do it when we had the money. Well, we have the money and we are going to produce it and bring it forward.

But, oh no, they listened to their mates in the union and they do not want it. But guess what: the average punter out there can see the benefit. Recently I heard that there has been a slight backdown, a slide back, a step back on this matter.

Did we hear the opposition say anything good about the government's assistance in respect of the recent GMC400?

Mr Hargreaves: You didn't say anything about that.

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my mother has always taught me that it was impolite to gloat. The crowds spent their dollars in Canberra during the weekend's activities and jobs were created. This was what we call a huge benefit. If members opposite doubt that, they should ask the tourist industry and the hospitality industry how much money was spent in the ACT and what jobs flowed from those dollars.

Where are the congratulations in the report for the Chief Minister and Treasurer's announcement that the government's planning has enabled it to return an exceptional and carefully targeted dividend to our community? The nit picking in this report, all in an effort to give Labor some financial management credibility, beggars belief. What this does is demonstrate clearly that the opposition would not have a clue what to do if they were once again given control of the treasury bench. We would be bankrupt again. When questioned by the media during the last election campaign, the leader of that side, the opposition, said that he was going out to borrow a billion dollars. That gives you an indication of what they would do.

Mr Stefaniak: Was it Khemlani?

MR HIRD: I am not saying who it was because he is not a bad fellow. It is only in this place that he starts to give me the irrits.

The budget delivered the support to make these innovations and programs happen. The budget commits $11 million in 2001-2002 to establish Canberra Connect. Also, look at the funding that we have provided for training at the CIT and the IT centre of excellence to help develop the export capacity and capabilities of ACT firms and to establish a Canberra technology park. This government has had the initiative to assist local companies and companies within the region. And what do we hear? Nothing. We hear silence from those on the other side of the chamber.

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