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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 1896 ..



...the government will make decisions on when it announces and releases things, and as I have indicated...I'll be releasing the figures later this week...

He proceeded to do so in the early hours of the next morning. I find that really quite extraordinary. Again, ministers go to estimates committees to answer questions. A committee has every right to expect ministers to do their best to answer questions and, if they do not know the answer, take the question on notice and get back to the committee quickly. The Minister simply failed to do so on something as basic as waiting lists, a quite extraordinary situation for this Estimates Committee. It was an absolute first and not a very good precedent to be setting for this Assembly, which wants to see open government. Quite clearly, this is counter to that.

Mr Speaker, some other issues have been raised. The Stadiums Authority springs to mind. I well recall the real problems there in relation to getting a big contract up and running on the basis of a handshake, which is not a very satisfactory procedure. I was pleased to see the committee recommend that for public contracts of more than $250,000 no funds should be paid out until a written contract has been signed by the relevant parties. That is a very sensible recommendation. While I am at it on that item, I remember asking a question about how many employees there are at the stadium. I think there are seven, apart from the ground people. I wonder whether it actually does need that many. I would point out that at times in the past that area has been run by as few as two. Perhaps the government should look at that as well.

Earlier, I mentioned waiting lists and hospital performances. The graphs provided are very good, but they are a bit worrying. If one looks at page 35, for example, which shows the operating performance against the budget, one will see that there was a very good operating performance in the years 1988-89 through to 2000-01, and that it was not too bad in 2001-02, but there is a very bad figure there of almost $15 million for 2002-03. Similarly, the waiting lists were coming down very nicely until about August 2001, and then there was an inexorable increase in the waiting lists and, according to the graph, they now stand at just a little under 4,400. That must be of concern as well.

Mr Speaker I will not speak any further in relation to the budget. Obviously, that will be done in the debate next week. But I think that it is a particularly serious matter and a matter of concern to have ministers not attempting to answer questions. That is something that we all should be very concerned about. I think that that has marred these estimates proceedings and this report and I would not like to see something like that happen again. I do not think that it serves the Assembly or the people of the ACT well when ministers do not at least attempt to answer questions.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Budget surplus

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, last week the Chief Minister

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