Page 3074 - Week 08 - Thursday, 7 August 2008

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covered all of those tasks, went straight down the toilet, through the incompetent fingers of Minister Hargreaves. There we had it: the government’s priorities to smaller roads had been pathetic. In 2005-06 budget, there was next to no new funding for Roads ACT projects or traffic congestion programs. So the litany of incompetence goes on.

In June 2006—my goodness!—there was another $30 million blow-out. The $30 million blow-out brought the already extravagant price tag of the GDE to $116 million. It was then noted that in the previous year’s budget, the 2005-06 ACT budget, approximately $86 million was required to complete construction; therefore there was a $30 million blow-out.

The stumbling minister comes into this place announcing, month after month: “Oh gee, more blow-outs. Oh gee, more delays. Oh gee, other roads priorities cancelled.” On 4 August 2006, we saw another debacle—the soil debacle. The latest instalment in the ongoing GDE saga was that an extra 40,000 cubic metres of landfill was apparently trucked in, at significant cost, to build up areas for ramps and flyovers in accordance with the government’s plans and specifications for construction. Not only did 40,000 cubic metres of recently trucked-in fill need to be removed, but another 180,000 cubic metres of existing soil also needed to be cut out and removed from the landscape. So 40,000 is put in by accident, but it was a matter of saying, “Hang on, we’ve still got to take 180,000 out.” An answer to a question on notice in September proved that this debacle, the soil debacle, cost an unnecessary $2.5 million.

That is just a snapshot of this government’s extravagant handling of this matter. It is no wonder that, when we talk to engineers and contractors, they talk about “passion fingers” Hargreaves. I think that is probably a colourful way of describing how they stuffed this project, or words to that effect. Another colourful expression by people around the place is “Midas in reverse”—everything that we touch turns into something, but not gold. Mr Speaker, we come to the government’s panicked announcement.

Mr Hargreaves: Have a drink of water, Steve.

MR PRATT: Thank you very much, minister; it is the best advice you have given in seven years. We had this bloody backflip announcement. We know that the first third of the duplication was not to occur for the first five years. There was no indication of that, but suddenly we have an announcement. I am looking forward to a clarification of that position. As for the statement about fuel, the whole thing, from whoa to go, has been a debacle: 2012 and $215 million versus the previous Liberal government’s $53 million, to be completed by 2005.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.40): Mr Speaker, members of this Assembly are elected by the community to make decisions that support and sustain the economy now and into the future. The decision by the ACT to duplicate the GDE now is a sensible and practical one, and it is a good decision. It is clear that the GDE is a very popular road—I travel on it every day and I can attest to that. It is clear that ACT community would like to see it duplicated now. It is also clear that the GDE is an important element of the future transport infrastructure for the ACT. It is necessary for the ACT economy to continue to grow and prosper.

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