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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1663 ..

Mr Wood: No-no breakdown.

MR PRATT: Well, there must be if there has been no action over two years, Minister.

Mr Wood: What about the meetings you just referred to?

MR PRATT: Yes, finally meetings which had been pushed by the federal authorities to try and resolve the impasse.

This breakdown has resulted in the stoppage of urgently needed funds and firefighting capability. That is unacceptable. Therefore, the government has left the ACT dangerously exposed and now, by the way, it seeks to blame the federal government. The Chief Minister has tried to pass the buck for responsibility on this one but he is not going to get away with it. His subsequent attempt to claim credit for reinstating negotiations is in fact bogus and a massive misrepresentation of the facts.

To now say that he has resolved the issue or recommenced negotiations is misrepresenting the facts. The finance department had been prepared to negotiate funding for a couple of years but we have not come to the party-we as a community have not come to the party. Furthermore, the ACT government has not acknowledged the prepayment of the order of $3 million made by the federal authorities in good faith while waiting for the ACT to get its act together and provide the required funding model. That is churlish.

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, the opposition calls upon the ACT government to expedite this matter, to recognise that they have created the impasse and, for the good of the community and in the interests of safety, to enter into immediate negotiations to secure the funding which has been available for two years from the federal authorities.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.23): Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to make the point that I am responding to the speech by Mr Steve Pratt, member for Brindabella, member of the ACT Legislative Assembly-well, I would have thought so at any rate but we have just had an apologetic speech from someone on behalf of the Commonwealth. It is Mr Pratt MLA, not Mr Pratt MP. He is clearly putting the Commonwealth's case on this matter. I would urge you, Mr Pratt, to remember what building you are in. You are in the building of the ACT Legislative Assembly. You are representing the people of the ACT and I would think that what we have just seen is not the way to represent those people.

In fact, Mr Pratt is running a brief for the Commonwealth government-the sort of brief they have run for the last few years, saying, "Just sign up. Sign up no matter what."That is the brief you are running and I am sorry you are not representing the ACT community. Mr Pratt is running a cost-cutting exercise on behalf of the Commonwealth.

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