Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 February 2009) . . Page.. 582 ..
(c) the critical issue of undertaking these capital works projects within tight timeframes; and
(2) calls on the Stanhope Gallagher Government to explain how it will deliver these capital works projects on time and on budget.
It is timely that we take a look at this government’s record on capital works and the delivery of major infrastructure projects, in the context of the Rudd government’s proposed stimulus package. We know that, if this stimulus package is passed through the Senate, there is going to be a significant amount of capital money allocated, some $350 million to the ACT. Much of this is welcome.
We have spoken at length about why we believe that insulating homes, particularly those of low-income families and pensioners, is good economic policy, good social policy and good environmental policy. We also see significant investment in education. If and when this package goes through, the critical issue will be the ability of the Stanhope-Gallagher government to deliver it—to ensure that, if we are going to have a stimulus package, the money is spent, spent wisely and spent well and these projects are delivered on time and on budget.
Given this government’s record over the past seven years, we in the opposition have significant concern about its ability to deliver. We have seen the failure of the Stanhope-Gallagher government to deliver capital works projects on time and on budget. We know that there are critical time frame issues with this latest infrastructure package. The last part of this motion, very importantly—and we look forward to hearing from the minister—calls on this government to explain how it will deliver these capital works projects on time and on budget.
It is worth looking at this government’s record on the delivery of infrastructure. We need to go through some of their major projects of the last few years, one by one. We have seen the Gungahlin Drive extension. We have seen the Alexander Maconochie Centre. We have seen the superschools. We have seen Tharwa Bridge. We have seen road funding. We have seen this government consistently underspend on its infrastructure budget. Roughly between a third and half of its infrastructure budget in any given year has been underspent. We have seen time frames blow out. We have seen costs blow out. We have seen some projects still waiting to be delivered—projects which have been on the books for a number of years.
This has occurred in the context of a booming economy and at a time of booming revenues. This government always says, “Well, we have thrown a lot of money at this and a lot of money at that.” We ask: what are the results? We have seen the windfall. The windfall has been quite significant. We cannot understate just how much extra money the territory has had coming into its budget over the last few years—a windfall over and above expectations every year, altogether amounting to over $1.6 billion. That is an average of $279 million. That is almost the size of this infrastructure package. That has been the extra money that this government has had every year to spend on services. They have not spent it wisely.
We have not seen the kind of major city building infrastructure delivered over this boom period that we should have. When you have the greatest property boom in our