Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2815 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
In summary, I am willing to face up to the fact that, without increasing our revenue base, we will not be able to provide the social services we so desperately need. The ACT government has relatively few options for revenue raising, and this bill covers two of a handful of those options. Invariably, the people who are hit with the new taxes will be unhappy. However, I am satisfied that the people who are affected by this bill can afford to pay these taxes to support those who cannot. I therefore give the bill my support.
Mr Speaker, I now move on to the government's response to the estimates report. This response raises concerns about the government's stated commitment to Westminster principles, as well as its commitment to accountability and openness. It is unfortunate that this government feels it is okay to hide away information and not keep us-the Assembly and the community-informed as part of the decision-making processes. I suggest real consultation might result in a better outcome for all.
The prison and remand centre, and economic management, are two cases in point. I refer to recommendation 45 from the Estimates Committee. It says:
The Committee recommends that the Government table in the ACT Legislative Assembly, as soon as possible, the list of sites considered for the ACT Prison.
The government's response that it is yet to identify a preferred site for the correctional facility, and that a public announcement will be made when a preferred site is selected, misses the point. We did not ask for the press release or the final answer. We want to know what is being considered. What are the options on the table for this government and this community for remand and prison sites? It appears we will just have to wait until we see a press release. Again we are seeing policy through the media, with little real consideration for the community and this Assembly.
The government will no doubt respond to my speech this morning using such words as "executive government", "commercial-in-confidence" and "good business practice". To a certain extent, those terms may be warranted, but accountability and openness must be a priority for any government, if we are truly working towards governing with the best long-term interests of our community at heart.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Humphries, would you like to raise a point?
MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition): We are debating three matters cognately and I wanted to make some further comments on the Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill. I seek leave to do that, Mr Speaker.
MR HUMPHRIES: I gather we are going to vote on this before we go on to debate the detail of the appropriation bill. If that is the way we are going to work on it, I will make a few comments, to adumbrate what I said before about the deficiencies the opposition identifies with this bill.