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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 615 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

money is spent and exactly what happens as far as the Treasurer getting moneys, which are available to the ACT through various sources, for this disaster is concerned.

MR SPEAKER: Members, I again call for order in the gallery. Mrs Cross and Mrs Burke, we are having difficulty with the sound recording system. It would be helpful if you maintain some order in the gallery.

MS TUCKER (11.41): I will quickly comment on the government's response to the Public Accounts Committee report. It seems to me to be a reasonable response from the government. I agree with Mr Smyth that, in recommendation 3, the government response does not actually address the point we were making. My concern is that it has not been responded to. This has been raised with me by members of the community, including professionals-that is the question of how well the hospital, in particular, can cope with an emergency.

I understand Mr Quinlan's response-that you cannot have extra money every single year, in case something happens. Whilst that is a sensible response, I think it is reasonable to ask, "How does the hospital cope in an emergency? Have you done an assessment of that?"I am sure that will happen in the inquiries. I am hoping that, in the McLeod inquiry in particular, there will be submissions put in about that. The concern that has been raised with me by a couple of people is that there was really no fat there at all, and that that was a problem. Anyway, we can see what comes out of the inquiry on that.

The Greens will be supporting this appropriation-and I think it is good that it was in the form of an appropriation. The Treasurer's advance was used for some expenses, but it is a good, transparent, way to deal with the extra money that has been spent as a result of the fires.

On the revenue side, the opposition has made much about this being an excuse for government to cover poor management of the territory's finances. I would not take that position at this point in time. It is unclear as to what revenue we will be getting from insurance. There are ways in which we can monitor how the government spends funds, through the budget process and estimates. We will be able to keep track, as we always do, of what is happening in that area.

In response to a question raised by Ms Dundas about the committee's report, she was concerned that we were suggesting services should be cut. That certainly was not my intention in the questioning. Maybe that is not quite clear in the report-I am not sure. It says here that the committee was interested to discover when the government had examined alternatives to funding the emergency through an additional appropriation.

My sense of the questioning there was basically that we were interested to know the government's processes in dealing with this situation and looking at the money available. The report also says, "The committee is surprised that no exercise seems to have been undertaken to identify areas where expenditure might have been deferred, existing programs delayed, or reduced in scope."I understand Ms Dundas's concern, because it does sound as if we are saying "Cut programs."Personally, I was more interested in the process that occurred within government-to see how we would deal financially with the impact of the fire.

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