Page 543 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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MR PRATT (Brindabella) (4.28): It is lovely to see the new love affair between Mr Barr and the new independent Labor member for Molonglo in terms of his economic credentials.

Mrs Burke: He might as well be.

MR PRATT: Yes, indeed. I stand to support the Leader of the Opposition’s motion. I congratulate him for bringing this forward and totally reject the Chief Minister’s amendments, the typical 99 per cent razor-gang approach to amending motions.

The impact on the ACT of the Rudd government’s funding cuts to departments and their projects and programs are far reaching. These cuts are unwarranted and are unjustified. I also note, by the way, that Mr Stanhope, lacking any spine, will not stand up to his federal comrades on this particular matter. I notice, by the way, that the Chief Minister is not even here. He is happy to do his cruet and dish it out before lunch but has not got the courage to come down here and face the ongoing debate. I do not see the Chief Minister bracing up Senator Lundy for her rather cynical attacks on the NCA, the appalling attacks which created the climate and allowed Prime Minister Rudd to move in and make the cuts that he has made.

Common sense on the part of the federal government would surely dictate that cuts to operating budgets and capital expenditure be initiated with some idea and recognition of their effects. In the case of the Griffin legacy cuts, there has been no explanation or apology whatsoever. We have seen the same lack of recognition and apology from the Stanhope government when it came to our own horror budget two years ago and the “necessary pain” of school closures and the slashing of front-line services that accompanied them.

The cuts to the NCA and the slashing of $46 million from the Griffin legacy mean that one of the key developments in the plan, to revitalise Civic, turning Constitution Avenue into a grand boulevard linking Civic with Russell, will be shelved indefinitely. Our roads are currently overburdened, to say the least, and these sorts of cuts will not alleviate that particular problem. The obvious effect of the loss of the Constitution Avenue upgrade will be extra traffic congestion, resulting from new offices and redevelopments between Civic and Russell, something which was supposed to be created to alleviate the upgrades.

We rely on federal funding to underpin the improvement of our road network. With the culling of NCA-funded works, will AusLink be next? I would like to see an explanation from the other side on their confidence about the ongoing AusLink program. Last year, the ACT government handed over to the commonwealth control of Constitution Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue, State Circle, Kings Avenue and sections of Parkes Way and other streets. In return, the commonwealth committed to capital works and $3 million a year for ongoing maintenance. Will this funding now be compromised too? Will we be left to carry the burden of an ageing road system that has currently no forward planning?

We have seen the Stanhope government abandon former Chief Minister Humphries’s five-year road funding plan. What federal roads assistance programs will be cut too?

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