Page 2803 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005
money; Can Deliver, which cost us money; Impulse Airlines, which cost us money, and the Bruce Stadium, which cost us money.
That collection of disasters that was the hallmark of the previous government was not part of any structured plan. There was no structure. There was, to borrow the title, impulse. Things were done on impulse, and that was the sum total. I do not blame Mr Smyth. I do not blame any members of the current Liberal Party because they were not part of the government. The government was Kate Carnell, John whatever his name is, and Mick Lilley. That is who ran the city. They did not run it according to a plan at all.
In my time in opposition, knowing that the probability was that we would be elected in 2001 and that we would have to assume responsibility and give direction, we actually said as part of our pre-election policy that we would put together an economic white paper; we would in fact take up that challenge. You do not do that without taking a certain amount of risk. We did a lot of study and it has now been condensed into a cohesive plan, which is called the Canberra plan. Cohesion, I think, is now the operative word and certainly is the word of contrast when we refer to what went before. That is the history.
The history is a litany of disasters that bought very little to this territory. Even with Bruce Stadium, you say it is a grand stadium, and people have said it is a grand stadium, but go back and read the audit report on it. Go back and read the assessment of what the punter who goes to the football gets out of it. It was a stadium that was built for the corporates at something like an assessed cost of $80 million-plus to the ACT taxpayer. The average ACT taxpayer does not get access to the facilities that cost that $40 million or $60 million or $80 million, depending on the assessments of the overall future cost. The average punter did not gain much from it at all.
This government could see the potential of the territory, and I will refer particularly to the economic white paper and its role within the Canberra plan. We could see that we needed to mark out our territory and, in order to develop this economy, we needed to understand it and we needed to know our strengths and our weaknesses and our opportunities. So we took that step. We consulted, and a lot has been said in this debate already about consultation. We did consult. We put out the draft. We challenged all of the stakeholders to criticise, to examine, to input into the final paper. In fact, the level of criticism was absolutely minimal.
If you take out the normal carping you get from Mr Smyth, it was virtually zero because people had had a role in it. I think that Mr Smyth has from time to time paid it the compliment of pinching little bits of it to try and embroider the impression at least that they had a policy before the last election. Of course, as is now a matter of history, their policy was a failure. Mr Smyth has led the Liberals to the bottom in terms of first preference voting across Australia. Mr Smyth made some claims about what he had done in terms of the medical school. The great deficiency that we found in 2001 when we came to government was that even those things that the Liberals talked about doing and had committed to were not funded. There was no funding. The incoming government had to pick up and do those things.