Page 4080 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 16 Sept 2009
Mr Smyth is right when he says that the people of the ACT should be concerned about this. They have given the management and the oversight of this project to the person who has the worst track record in the Stanhope government—“Mr on time and on budget GDE” himself, Mr Simon Corbell. That is what he guaranteed in the 2000 election: it would be on time and on budget. This is the man who built the prison that blew out in costs—and we ended up with substantially less than what we originally started with. This is the man who, together with his colleague “puss in boots”, Mr Hargreaves here, has—
Mr Hargreaves: Madam Assistant Speaker, I ask Mrs Dunne to withdraw the stupid comment. I have not said a word to her today; I would like her to do the same for me. It was uncalled for.
MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Burch): Yes. Please withdraw.
MRS DUNNE: Okay.
Mr Hargreaves: Louder. I didn’t hear you.
MRS DUNNE: I have withdrawn the comment. What we have here is a minister who has a track record of not being able to manage projects. We have the ESA headquarters as another example.
What we are doing today is putting on the record for the people of the ACT and for the Stanhope government that the members of the opposition, and I presume the members of the crossbenches, are deeply concerned about the blow-out of these costs. We will be watching this very closely. Mr Rattenbury’s amendment does actually add more of that flavour; therefore the opposition will be supporting the amendment.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (3.55): As I previously indicated, the government will support this amendment. We do not have a difficulty with expressing concern about the increase in cost. It is a concern. The Chief Minister and the Treasurer have both indicated their significant concern about the increase in costs. The community is right to be concerned about any increase in costs.
But again these issues must be kept in the context of what the alternatives are. The alternative is to deliver a water purification plant at a much larger cost than Cotter Dam. The alternative is stage 4 water restrictions, which cost the ACT community $350 million per annum—the entire cost of this project for one year of stage 4 water restrictions. Members should bear those factors in mind.
But it is important to maintain an accurate assessment of costs. Obviously there are a range of variables in play—which Actew highlighted and which I referred to in question time—that have led to this increase in cost. There are nevertheless grounds for concern about any increase in costs. That is why the government will support the amendment.