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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2138 ..

In the Climate Change team you will have the opportunity to lead and contribute to a variety of policy work relating to climate change, energy, water, drought response, environmental and natural resource management issues. Current, high profile topics that the team advises the Treasurer on include national emission trading scheme design and impacts, ongoing water market reforms, and structural adjustment and adaptation issues associated with climate change.

I believe we would get better sustainability outcomes from Treasury if they had people like this advising them, because at the moment I think there is a danger that Treasury could be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo––Leader of the Opposition) (8.38): I would just like to say a few words. We asked some questions particularly in relation to infrastructure when we asked the Treasurer to outline the budget for us and, given the great focus on infrastructure, we thought we might be able to get some answers. With the planned spend of $1.4 billion over the next few years in infrastructure, it is worth reflecting on the government’s underspend over the last few years. We asked what was going to change.

It is worth reflecting on some of those numbers. In 2002-03 the underspend was $56 million or 37 per cent of the budget, in 2003-04 the underspend was $61.1 million or 36 per cent, in 2004-05 there was an underspend of $118 million or 48 per cent, in 2005-06 an underspend of $151.1 million or 48 per cent once again, and in 2006-07 an underspend of $135.3 million or 38 per cent. The question that we put, which was not answered in any way, was: what are you going to do differently to get a much more ambitious program of capital works spending through over the next few years?

The government really had no answers; they were not able to tell us what structural changes they would make that would actually change this massive underspend and would allow them to embark on a more ambitious program of capital works spending in the next few years. We simply did not get the answers.

We absolutely agree with the principle that in these times when the government have been swimming in revenue from land sales, from conveyancing, from GST and other sources, particularly when they have been relying on money from land sales and some of the big commercial land sales that we have seen in recent years, we should see infrastructure; we should see lasting infrastructure. In fact, the last few years have been a record of failure in terms of getting some of that lasting infrastructure built.

You only have to look at the Gungahlin Drive extension. There is great disappointment in the community, particularly in Gungahlin but also in parts of Belconnen, that after years of waiting, after years of delay, what we have is a one-lane road. It is a one-lane road that at peak hours already appears inadequate and we know that as Gungahlin grows, and it is still growing fairly rapidly, we will see real gridlock. There is disappointment in the community at this government for getting this project so wrong by seeing it delayed so significantly, seeing the costs blow out but also seeing in the end an inadequate road. If you are on it in non-peak times, it is a very good road; it is a good way of getting north-south on the western side of Canberra. But if you are there at peak hours, particularly in the mornings, it is a particularly slow journey.

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