Page 2219 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008
I raised this with the minister during estimates and, to the great credit of the minister and the department, within the week, the particularly bad piece of extraordinarily dangerous footpath in Chinner Street was dug up and there was safety fence around the area. Work has begun there. I thank the minister and his department for the promptness with which they dealt with this. This is pretty much the standard that we have come to expect from Mr Hargreaves in this area, and he needs to be commended for it.
The lengthy exposition that Mr Hargreaves just gave on this area shows the breadth of areas that this covers. I will deal with the big ones and I will go through them. But first of all, I would like to touch briefly on Mr Gentleman’s comments in relation to the dissenting comments made by Mr Smyth and me. Mr Smyth and the rest of us did have things to say that were dissenting. Mr Gentleman did the usual Labor Party thing about “never mind the quality, feel the length,” and said, “Look at the 1,064 pages that are in the budget compared to the 42 pages of dissenting comments.”
Mr Gentleman has to remember that those 42 pages of dissenting comments were put together after everything else was done in the estimates process, because that is the way it is done. We take the issues to the estimates process and, those things that we think are worth commenting on, we comment on. We could have spent a lot more time and put together a lot lengthier document if we were not spending hours and hours asking questions. We asked 4,000 questions. I think Mr Smyth just did a calculation, and that works out at a question for every $840,000 in the budget. I think we should have been doing a lot more questioning than we did.
If we had not spent three weeks or 3½ weeks in estimates asking questions and then doing hand-to-hand comments about the content of the original report, we could have written a much longer and much more detailed report, with many examples. But we basically had to turn that around overnight.
What it was, in many ways, was to take the really important issues, the big issues, and comment on those to some extent. And I would have liked to have had more time to comment and say more. There were other things that could have been commented upon but time did not allow us to write very much more than that. We were being pressured to come up with the material so that they could be printed and distributed for members.
But getting back to the budget itself, there are some important points. I have to start with the GDE. I have to go back and remind members that, in the estimates process in 2004, the then head of urban services told the estimates committee, “We have done the research. We have done the studies. And when the road is built, it will be a great road 22 hours a day.” I have to tell you that, as a regular user of that road, that prediction has already been disproved, because there is now a two-hour period of the morning when the choke points—they do move around from time to time—are such that we have Sydney-style traffic jams on the GDE.
The head of the Department of Urban Services at the time said, “Yes, for those two hours, it will not be real good, but we will not actually have the sort of congestion we