Page 888 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 20 March 2012

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MR HANSON (Molonglo) (2.19): In relation to the comments from the minister, we have seen some contradictory statements here because Dr Bourke initially said that they were private notes; now the minister is saying that Dr Bourke is saying they are not private notes. I think this goes to the point that, whatever you label them, if a minister is quoting from a document and it is relevant to the debate then that is something that should be consistent with the information provided to the Assembly, and if it is information that is relevant it should be provided to inform members of the Assembly. Otherwise we will have a situation where, if it is a document that any of the ministers choose that they are not going to provide, they will simply say, “It’s private notes,” and it will be beyond the reach of this Assembly to require them.

I think we need to make informed decisions, as the Assembly, in relation to whether we need to see those documents or not, whether they are relevant to the debate, and not just allow ourselves to be essentially put off by a minister saying, “They’re private notes.” Otherwise ministers will simply classify everything as private notes and we will not get access to important information. If what Dr Bourke was quoting from is consistent with the information he provided to the Assembly, there should be no issues at all. If it is not then he has some serious questions to answer.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Corrections) (2.21): Mr Speaker, I table the following paper:

Weapons in schools—Talking points.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, would you be happy to seek leave to withdraw the motion now?

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (2.21): I seek leave to withdraw the motion, now that Dr Bourke has agreed to hand over the document.

Leave granted.

MR SPEAKER: We will now proceed with question time.


MS LE COUTEUR: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and is in relation to funding for the urban tree replacement program. Minister, the 2009-10 budget allocated $18.7 million to be used over four years for the urban forest renewal program. The intent of the program was to replace Canberra’s dying street trees, which were suffering from a combination of old age and drought. Before these funds were spent, subsequent budgets reduced the funding to $10 million over four years. Minister, given the Assembly passed a resolution in June 2010 calling on the government to restore appropriate funding for the urban forest renewal program, could you explain why current funding is almost half what it was in 2010? When will you restore the original funding?

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