Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2102 ..
I will deal with the data centre, the ESA headquarters, the balloon fiasco and the infrastructure scheme under more relevant lines, but the thing that really disappointed me was the attitude of the ministers and the number of ways that they devised to avoid scrutiny. If you had been in government for seven years, you were sure of what you were doing, you knew your answers and you had done your work, you would have just straight-batted all these questions and answered them.
The complaint is that there were so many questions on notice. God forbid: people dared to put questions on notice! The questions were on notice because they were not answered. When you go back through the Hansard the next day and you read them, you think, “Why couldn’t they answer that? Why didn’t they know that?” In some cases, we knew the answers; we were just trying to confirm that what we had been told and what we had worked out was correct. But the government did not know the answer. It just shows the lack of confidence that the ministerial colleagues of the Chief Minister have in the budget. They did not know their answers, they did not want to reveal their answers or they just could not reveal their answers because they knew that it would lead to people questioning what they would do.
So there we have it: a big-spending Labor budget—spending more, delivering less. What we have is just so typical of Labor budgets: throw money at problems instead of fixing them. “When you were in office you spent so much; we are spending so much more so we are so much better.” Again today, Ms Gallagher said, “We are spending so much more on mental health; we are spending so much more on elective surgery.” Why are the lists longer? When we left office, the list was 3,488. It is now almost 5,000—a 40 per cent increase. The budget in health has almost doubled and the elective surgery waiting list has gone up 40 per cent. That is good management! It is so typical of Labor—a big spending budget; throw money instead of fixing the problems; spend more and get less service.
Yes, this is an enormous spending budget, and the focus of it is capital works. But on their record they cannot deliver. Labor cannot deliver and has no intention of delivering the infrastructure spend in this budget.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure—part 1.2—ACT Executive—$5,582,000 (payments on behalf of the territory) totalling $5,582,000
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4:53): The executive is, of course, the part of the budget that funds the ministers, and part of the function of the ministers is that they front estimates. When they fronted estimates, it was clear that there was a strategy that they were not going to answer questions. We saw that in the embarrassment for the government where officials and the Deputy Chief Minister, the then Acting Chief Minister, had to write to the committee and retract statements that had been made. Indeed, the Chief Minister was, embarrassingly, forced to come back with his officials to answer the questions on the line of questioning that had been blocked. That is standard operating procedure for this government.
We saw the constant excuse: “I have answered that somewhere else. It is in the Hansard. I told the Assembly.” The committee is not the Assembly. When a