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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2158 ..

bush who do not like the effects of that, so perhaps that was not such a good idea in 1993 after all.

Mr Berry: The ones in Tuggeranong are okay. They are swimming in Labor's pool.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Berry, I have already answered Mr Rugendyke's question on that so I will not go into that. You can just wait a little while there. It is unfortunate that we do have to wait. This is a government that does believe in attempting to abide by and honour its promises. Now, those opposite might not like it, but should they be putting up something like this bill?

Mr Moore asked why they are not saying we should spend on education the $10 million which we are now giving back to motorists. That has a lot more strength than what Mr Berry is proposing. Or maybe we can spend some of that insurance levy. Even that might have a bit more strength that what Mr Berry is proposing. We are doing what we said we would do. It was a significant promise and, guess what, we got elected in 1995. I think the promise was conditional on the finances of the territory, which were shot to pieces then but which are in a much better state now, thanks to this government.

This is a highly inappropriate amendment bill, Mr Speaker, and I want to make a couple of points in relation to that. The Financial Management Act provides a framework for the sound financial management of the territory and mechanisms for appropriate levels of Legislative Assembly scrutiny and ministerial accountability. Specifically, the act provides for an appropriation bill to be prepared and tabled in the Assembly to approve the territory's budget. It is the executive's prerogative to develop and present expenditure initiatives as part of its budget. Members of the Assembly are provided with the opportunity to scrutinise the budget estimates, and we are doing that this week, not only in the Assembly but also through the committee process. Of course, they can ultimately vote on the Appropriation Bill in the Assembly, and accept it or reject it.

It is highly inappropriate to propose amendments to the Financial Management Act that require a higher level of scrutiny and approval for a specific appropriation. This type of amendment does not belong in the Financial Management Act. There are other mechanisms available to the member either to stop this initiative or to impose a higher level of scrutiny on free school buses. I think Mr Berry has said that if the free school bus initiative goes through Labor will campaign against it. I think he said they will change it if they get in. They can promise that. Let's see if they do that at the end of the day. That at least is a legitimate step for him to take should they wish to go down that path.

I have been advised too that if this bill happens to get up there are some effects which even Mr Berry might not realise. The following situation would exist: DECS would still have the capacity and authority to continue operating the existing free school bus pass program, but the new initiative, the enhanced transport scheme for students with disabilities, and that is $700,000 for four years, would be affected by the operation of the amendment and would not be able to proceed. That is the advice I have. That initiative provides for the removal of eligibility criteria for the special needs transport scheme that required students to be assisted to the nearest appropriate school. The existing special needs transport scheme would have the financial capacity and authority under the proposed FMA amendments to operate.

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