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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1649 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

This would be the longest running promise. This is a bit like Blue Hills. This will be the third election that we are promised the Belconnen pool and nobody will have swum in it. There are also the hospital implosion costs-an ongoing albatross around this government's neck. And there is the Williamsdale quarry. What a litany of ill-effects on the ACT taxpayer is associated with the quarry! The government forced Totalcare to sell off 50 per cent of its ownership in a potential money earner for the territory. Also in relation to Totalcare, is the artificial barrier to contributing to work. There is also the nurses' wages situation. It was confirmed again that the government did not want the nurses put into an equal bargaining position with the government in relation to future wages, because it wanted to impose its will on them.

This Estimates Committee report has punched many holes in the government's management-and for good reason, because that is what the Estimates Committee is there for, to hold the government accountable for its actions. I think it has achieved that, and no wonder the minister is squealing. But I go back to my earlier point: the budget that he compared this with was a Labor budget, and no wonder it was a much better Estimates Committee report.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (4.09): Mr Speaker, I have had the pleasure of sitting on, I think, every estimates committee from 1989 until 1997. I do not recall whether I was always actually a member of those committees but I certainly participated in all of them. I have to say that my view differs greatly from Mr Kaine's this morning. I think that the way this committee report is done is much more political. And that was no more clearly highlighted than in the fact that two of the members were effectively prevented from doing their dissent to that report-either by the time restrictions or by the vote of this Assembly.

But I have to say that the most important issue that has just come out in the last few minutes is Mr Berry saying, with regard to the 1994-95 report I think, when Labor was in government, that there was nothing to criticise. And there is one sense in which that is true-because they did not seek to try to achieve anything. If you do not try to do anything, it is highly unlikely that you will actually have anything to criticise, other than to have a look at the fact that at that time there was a significant increase in unemployment.

There was a significant increase in the operating loss, taking the operating loss to $344 million. As the Auditor-General has identified and verified, the hospital budgets were blown out significantly. There was an exponential increase in hospital waiting lists. There was an extraordinary amount of political strife with the nurses federation tackling Mr Berry again and again. I think that in that period generally things were going downhill in a very significant way, and that contrasts with the last few years. Whilst Mr Berry can point to his mantra that he repeats, things have been turned around significantly. The operating loss got under control. Unemployment has improved

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