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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3696 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

to be a little haphazard. In some vital areas there is a breathtaking lack of urgency on critical issues. We call on the government to address those issues-in particular, outstanding communication systems issues that have been slowly and bureaucratically dealt with over a period of two to three years but that still need finalisation.

Paradoxically, in some areas of this appropriation and implementation exercise there has been undue haste and decision making without proper analysis and consultation with vital stakeholders. By and large, we welcome a number of good initiatives and we will support their implementation by the government. Some initiatives, in particular, the CFUs program, fall well short of urgent requirements. I encourage the government to address those shortfalls and I wish it well in its implementation of these programs.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (12.06), in reply: I thank members for their general support for the bill. I would like to address a couple of points that were made in debate. Some members complained about the fact that this government had introduced more than one Appropriation Bill and that its legislation could have been better planned. It is a matter of commonsense that governments introduce more than one Appropriation Bill if it is within budget, in particular, for issues such as EBAs when negotiations are taking place and when they do not include their budgetary limit in the first Appropriation Bill and therefore have no room to bargain.

Mrs Cross, who made that point, tried to say that it was bad planning on the part of this government. I dismissed her contribution because I believe that she just wanted to criticise the government for something. I wish to address a couple of the points that were made about community groups and, in particular, FaBRIC. As I advised members at the estimates committee hearings, over the years I have been involved with a number of groups of a similar nature, including FaBRIC. Those community organisations, which have a limited amount of resources, have the unenviable job of providing a certain level of services because there is and always will be demand at the margin. If there were no demand at the margin I believe we would have found the perfect world.

As I said earlier, I know of a number of organisations that have gone through that process. I liken their job to trying to land a jumbo on a footpath. They have to anticipate fluctuations in the demand for their services and somehow supply those services with limited resources. Their major task is to manage their resources and to ensure that they prioritise them for the optimal benefit for the community. Committees should be a little wary about accepting the demands or requests of community organisations and passing them on. We know that there will be unmet demand, or that there will be demand at the margin.

Mr Pratt asked me earlier how the government was able to pick a man for a job when it had not yet set up the organisation. I hope that we pick someone who has the capacity or the flexibility to manage an organisation, regardless of the particularities of its structure. I am sure that Mr Pratt, who has been a soldier, an aide worker and an MLA, could claim that he is better equipped now to deal with any issue than he was when he was a soldier. I thank all members for their support for the bill. I cannot guarantee-and I do not apologise for this fact-that it will be the last Appropriation Bill. Governments should not have to stick to their set budgets.

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