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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 807 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

reduces the baseline to education and does not, in some way, compensate that agency for that in the future.

A further point of concern for the committee was disappointment at the lack of a policy framework for the office of sustainability. This means it will not be possible for the office to have an input in any constructive way into the framing of the 2002-03 budget. That is one element of this bill which is about the government's election commitments.

In conclusion, it was my view and, I think, the overall view of the committee, that there are some serious shortcomings in this initial attempt at budget-making by the government.

The Liberal Party will not be opposing this bill, any more than it has opposed any other appropriation bill which has been brought before this place in recent years. However, before it passes this appropriation bill, the Liberal Party would like to see the government's response to the issues raised. That may have an effect on the government's proposed timetable-that is, that it be passed in the course of this sitting week.

The committee could determine no reason why this bill needed to be passed this week, or this month, other than the fact that the Treasurer had some fear that the Assembly may not pass the bill and therefore would not be able, as a government, to deal with the issues contained in the bill. As I have said, I do not believe there is a foundation for that fear. I think the Assembly is entitled to see a response to the issues raised by the Liberal Party before this bill is enacted by the Assembly.

MS DUNDAS (11.54): Mr Speaker, I am also speaking on the report of the Select Committee on Estimates on Appropriation Bill 2001-2002 (No 3). I would like to thank the other members of the committee for their patience and input as we developed this report. I believe we have a clear report which contains some positive recommendations.

This report raises a number of key issues, regarding not only Appropriation Bill (No 3), but of the financial management and processes in the ACT. In that regard, I eagerly anticipate a full and detailed government response to this report and its recommendations contained within it. To that end, I urge that we capitalise on the good, and move to address the bad.

The appropriation bill has a number of key good things, such as the Office of Sustainability. I hope we can capitalise on such an office, as soon as possible, so that the sustainable future of the ACT can start to be fully considered and actively addressed.

However, there are problems, and Mr Humphries has gone on about the problems in depth. The committee had problems in seeking answers and trying to glean understanding as to why and how this appropriation had come about, and what it was trying to achieve. If the committee had such concerns when we were dealing with an appropriation bill of this size, at this time, I would hope that these concerns will be adequately and quickly addressed. The next appropriation bill we look at may be the new budget in the next financial year. Delays, concerns, and issues such as those raised in this report are inexcusable as we try to deal with the financial future of the territory.

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