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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2082 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

We have processes in place, such as the Cultural Council, to decide on those issues, and I think that is where those decisions are best made. Inevitably every year some very good projects do not get up, but that is simply the nature of the grants process. At a future time I will have some more to say about the arts.

We have had a difficult time in the last few years with arts. A considerable number of very fine arts groups in Canberra have fallen, and not necessarily because of any lack of artistic ability. In fact, they have been very strong. Look at Skylark, look at Meryl Tankard, look at the Philharmonic that continued because it played its way out of trouble. The Canberra Symphony Orchestra is in temporary trouble but I am sure they also can play their way out of it. You demonstrated emotion, Mr Speaker, when I said they could play their way out of it, but as we approach the pre-election period we need to look at arts policies and examine why it is that so many fine bodies in the ACT have run into trouble. Maybe there is something we can look at on the policy side that will secure the foundation for those groups.

MR HARGREAVES (7.38): Much as been said about the quality of the Estimates Committee report. I thought it was a fabulous report. I have to say that during the course of the estimates hearings some members failed to understand what actually constituted a budget-a beginning, a middle and an end. The chairman of the committee tried valiantly to educate those members who did not have a clue about what was going on, but all the efforts of the chairman to educate members on budget construction and to talk to them about superannuation liability and things like that were like pearls before swine. These people did not want to listen.

Mr Rugendyke: That is unkind.

Mr Quinlan: We are the only ones you are supposed to be unkind to in this place, aren't we?

Mr Corbell: That's right.

Mr Quinlan: Yes, it's okay this way, but not that one.

MR HARGREAVES: It's okay, Mr Speaker, for people to launch into personal invective against the chairman of the committee, who did a sterling job in my view. Having been associated with estimates committee hearings for the best part of 29 years in the public service, I can tell you that it was a great process, because I have been on the other side of the table. Some members might disagree with that, but I suggest that that is because they have never been there before. When they find out the process in future years, when those opposite are on these benches, they will find out the difference between quality and quantity.

Mr Speaker, there were two well-known academics who described this budget as a missed opportunity, or was it a lost opportunity? Either way. One of them was a professor from the ANU, I believe, who went to some lengths to say what was missing and what could have been done with the windfall. A lost opportunity. The other academic who described it as a budget of missed opportunity was a former accountant of the year and, as it turns out, chairman of the Estimates Committee.

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