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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2193 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I think it is obscene to introduce a scheme which is going to cost the taxpayers of this town $27 million a couple of days before the caretaker period begins. Had this government come forward at the beginning of the last financial year and said it was going to introduce a free bus scheme, we would have said that we did not like it, but we would have accepted the fact that the crossbench would have applied the principle that Mr Osborne often talks about and say that the government is entitled to its budget. We are talking about the government being entitled to a $27 million budget for the best part of 16 weeks. As I said before, if it were a $100,000 project, it would not be quite so much of a problem as we could undo it if we had to, but a $27 million one would go too far past that. I urge everybody in this Assembly to consider that all Labor is asking for is to have it put off; not to pull out the money.

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak again.

Leave granted.

MR OSBORNE: I have been upstairs listening to the debate and feel the need to make a couple of points. I will be very brief. Mr Speaker, I shudder to think what this place would have been like over the last six years if we had followed the convention of the Labor Party and other members of the crossbench. This is the first year that I have been in here that the Labor Party has been actually supporting a budget. I am not sure whether Ms Tucker is going to support the budget. That is obviously a decision that she will make tomorrow. There have been conventions that we on this part of the crossbench have followed. The decision that we face every year is simple: the government puts down its budget and we support it or we do not.

Mr Berry: Okay, you can vote with us against the budget.

MR OSBORNE: If members of the Labor Party want to talk to me about voting against the budget, I am always happy to talk to them about that type of thing, but I have never tinkered around the edges or tried to amend different lines in the budget. The temptation has been there for me, Mr Speaker. There have been lots of instances in the last six years where I would have liked to see the money being spent somewhere else. School buses are one example. There has been money forked out to some of the lobby groups that I think could have been better spent. I could go through the budget and find millions and millions of dollars about which I would like to move a motion like this one and have the government spend the money somewhere else.

Mr Rugendyke and I have to make a decision every year on whether to support the budget. We support the budget because we believe in stability. Last year, we were faced with a grave decision to make through the actions of others. The Labor Party and the Greens put their hands up and said, "We are going to block supply." Eventually, I had to make a decision on the whole budget over an issue on which I do not need to go over the details as it has been discussed many times in this place. But we have to decide whether to support a budget. I learned from Mr Moore during the time that he sat with me that, at the end of the day, you cannot force governments to change this or that on a whim.

Mr Berry: Oh, no, you didn't do that!

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