Page 1368 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2006

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time the government makes an expenditure decision, as you would of course observe, without having to ask the question.

Mr Stefaniak, in the context of timing and process, the cabinet is in the process of putting together a budget. We are making many decisions along the way—decisions essentially of principle—because the process on which we work is that we will, at whatever is the final budget cabinet meeting, take a decision that we accept the draft budget as the budget. When we do that the numbers are set, but until we do that the numbers will roll all over the place. Of course that is the case in any decision-making process. That is how budgets are put together. That is how you did it and that is how we do it. We make decisions on line items. “Shall we change expenditure on this line or not? Shall we change it up, or shall we change it down?” Some we change up and some we change down; and at the end of the day we get a budget.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. I thank the Chief Minister for that answer. The supplementary is a little bit similar to what you have been asked but different; so listen to it. What advice did Mr Costello provide to the ACT government in relation to revenue and expenditure estimates that would be necessary to bring the GFS outcome back to surplus?

MR STANHOPE: He provided some very interesting advice on those matters, Mr Stefaniak.

Water—Snowy hydro scheme

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Chief Minister. It concerns the forthcoming sale of the Snowy hydro scheme. Chief Minister, in reply to my question in February, you agreed that it is vital that the ecological and environmental integrity of the catchment be maintained, and expressed the hope that the federal government would devote its $400 million cut of the sale to the Murray-Darling Basin. You also said the only role or influence the ACT government would have would be moral persuasion and argument about the need to protect and enhance that much denuded and beaten river system. Will you assure the Assembly that you will put those arguments to the New South Wales Legislative Council inquiry into the proposed sale of the Snowy hydro scheme when it conducts public hearings in our region?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. I cannot recall exactly what I said the last time I was asked about this. But I do have a view, and I can bang my gums about it forever and it will not change the world. I honestly believe that, in the context of the commonwealth’s holding 13½ per cent, or whatever it is, they robbed us. I honestly and truly believe, in the historical context of the commonwealth’s holding in the Snowy hydro, that it was held for and on behalf of the territory.

The only reason the commonwealth has an ownership stake in the Snowy hydro is that Canberra is the national capital. Its only interest derives out of, and is borne of, the establishment and existence of Canberra as the national capital. That is my view, and I believe that anybody that looks at the history of the commonwealth’s ownership and the basis on which it took that ownership would accept that as irrefutable. They are the facts of the matter—the historical case.

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