Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 August 2008) . . Page.. 2842 ..
government was duplicating the Gungahlin Drive extension. What changed between 8 July and 23 July 2008 that led to your government suddenly making it a priority?
MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. I met not just with the Gungahlin Community Council but with all community councils at an informal lunch. It was not a meeting, as it has been characterised. It was an informal lunch. It was part of the mechanisms that the government puts in place to consult broadly with the community. I meet from time to time with representatives across the spectrum. On that particular day I met with the executives of all of the community councils, and there was a broad range of discussion around a number of issues. There was a discussion around expenditure, and particularly capital expenditure on infrastructure. In relation to that broad discussion about infrastructure, roads were given as an example of the difficulties that governments have in prioritising different capital projects.
During that lunch, there was a discussion about the duplication of GDE and the basis on which the government had earlier taken a decision not to fund a four-lane GDE at the time that the initial decision to fund was taken. By way of explanation, I used as an example the difficulty that a government would have in providing funding of $120 million for a particular capital project while at the same time, with a small government with an annual average capital budget, at the time that that decision was taken of less than $100 million, funding a single capital project costed at $210 million. That is a big ask for a government of that size. It is probably for that very reason that we found, during the years that the Liberal Party were in government, that their biggest annual spend on capital works was in the order of $80 million—and that was their largest spend. So up to 2001, the largest single spend by the Liberal Party in government on capital works, including roads, was $80 million. You need to understand that. That is taking us to 2001, at the time that discussions around the GDE were first seriously contemplated. So you need to take into account that perspective and that background. That is precisely the discussion that was occurring at that meeting.
I do not know whether I gave as an example the Liberal Party’s average spending of $80 million, but I made the point that it simply would not have been possible in 2001-02, on coming to government, to commit $210 million to a single capital project and pursue other priorities that the government had. Indeed, during this discussion, which utilised the GDE as an example, I said, to reinforce the point at that time, that if the government had committed $200 million to the GDE, it could not possibly have committed to other roads. Interestingly, at that point Ms Rosemary Lissimore, the president of the Tuggeranong Community Council, made the point that it would not be acceptable, in her view, for that sort of decision to be made by the government and to disregard the need for road upgrades in Tuggeranong. Ms Lissimore interjected during the discussion to say that she understood the point and that it simply would not be reasonable that roads in Tuggeranong that had been funded would not be funded in order to allow an expenditure of that sort on the GDE.
That was the discussion. At no stage did I ever suggest, or have I ever suggested, that the duplication of the GDE was not a priority. Indeed, in the budget papers for this year, in relation to the billion-dollar infrastructure fund—