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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2160 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

appropriation can go on; the money can actually be spent. The money is appropriated and it is there, but this is a new step that is being added, and it expires on 20 October.

The reason why the Labor Party have chosen to do that is because they are so seriously concerned about the reckless way this government has initiated this proposal which will have ongoing implications for government spending into the future. We are not talking about a one-off. It is not like the one-off reckless expenditure to Impulse. It is not like the one-off expenditure on Bruce Stadium, or the many, many, many of them. That clearly will not be one-off. We know there is going to be an ongoing cost to the territory from that particular mess.

This free school bus idea has ongoing implications for government spending. We are looking at between $4 million and $5 million a year. We do not know. We know it is between $4 million and $5 million recurrent expenditure in the budget now. As has already been pointed out, the government has not done any analysis on how that amount could change or blow out, which is clearly what happened in New South Wales. We have had that debate in this place on a couple of occasions now.

Turning to the issue of the Assembly's position on money bills, there is already a grey area there. We know that this Assembly has the power, through disallowing instruments, to have an impact on the money issues of the government because a lot of those regulations that we can disallow set fees and charges. Mr Osborne supported a motion of disallowance regarding the Tidbinbilla entry charges. That has an impact. That has an impact on the government's revenue raising capacity. It happens. That is already happening to our government because of the method in which this Assembly is actually run. What Mr Berry is seeking to do today is still within that grey area.

It is totally wrong for Mr Moore or anyone else to say in this place that the Assembly can have no role at all on issues of money. We do it. It is there. We do it through disallowing regulations. It is already there to a degree. We do have a grey area. The ruling of the Speaker has shown quite clearly today that this bill is not out of order. It is in the grey area, but it is not causing a major change to how money can be appropriated at all. As for the reason for this amendment bill, I would be pleased, and I have to say I would be surprised, if the government showed the rigour and courage to honestly address the concerns that have been raised in this debate and previous debates, including the debate on the motion that I put, and the issues that have been raised across the Canberra community since the budget was first brought down.

There are basically three arguments that the government has put in regard to this free bus initiative. The first argument is the one of freedom of choice, and there are two more transparently specious arguments: that people already have applied for the pass, so they must be in support of the initiative, and that it is simply keeping an election promise.

On the first argument, if all government services were to be cut completely and everyone was to be given a cash payment instead, would people, even those opposed to the proposition, apply for the cash payment? Of course they would. Similarly, it is true to say that some people are putting in an application for free school bus travel, but that does not necessarily mean they are in favour of that scheme. To describe every application as a vote in favour of the scheme is an extraordinarily weak argument. Mr Smyth has done that in two question times now and I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that I have had numerous

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