Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4442 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The report goes on to discuss proposals for upgrading the Currong apartments that would meet the BCA fire escape lengths, meet BCA fire isolation requirements for existing enclosed stairs and meet BCA stretcher lift requirements. We have heard from the government today. It is quite clear from the government's October 2001 election policy that they had a copy of this report and had read it and knew that that was in there.

At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MS DUNDAS: There are a number of questions to which I would like answers on whether this expenditure was unforeseen. If the government was aware of the urgent need for this upgrade and if, as their policy states, they will continue the implementation of the ACT Housing MUPP with greater transparency of process and funding allocations, why was the expenditure not provided for in the supplementary appropriation bills that were debated in this Assembly in December 2001 and February 2002? If the expenditure was not unforeseen and was already being considered as part of the budget, why was the entire expenditure not left until then?

I do have a question about the money in the budget. We know that $10 million was transferred to ACT Housing to be used for improving fire safety. The ACT's 2002-03 budget, as reported in the ownership agreement for ACT Housing on page 44, includes an allocation of some $16 million for the period 2002-03 and 2003-04 for improved fire safety at major ACT Housing flat complexes. This is the allocation for 2002-03, as discussed as part of the ongoing budget consultation processes that the Treasurer was so proud of at the time. Does this $16 million include the $10 million that came out of the Treasurer's Advance, or was that a separate expenditure and are we actually now spending $26 million on upgrading fire safety in these flats? It is of great concern that these questions have to be asked.

I think that one point that is without debate is that there is an urgent need to upgrade the fire safety requirements across public housing in the ACT and that this action has been delayed. But we knew about these problems two years ago. The government knew about these problems when they put together their election policy. Why were they not fixed earlier? Apparently, the need was not urgent, or it was urgent but not urgent enough. I would really like some clarification from the government on their decision-making in this process. But it also does lead to further questions about the worrying trend of ACT treasurers to treat the Treasurer's Advance as pocket money they do not have to account for.

We are talking in this financial year's budget of $19.4 million. I am now incredibly concerned about how that $19.4 million is going to be expended, because we will not know about it unless the government tells the media, we have a supplementary appropriation, or we wait till the end of the financial year. Clearly, that is not a very good process. This is about 1 per cent of the ACT budget, which is a significant amount of money for the ACT community. Every dollar that this government spends for and on behalf of the community should be quite clearly accounted for.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .