Page 801 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013

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hospital. I understand the hospital is around $340 million. I do not think the government had that one costed, from memory. They could not actually put a figure on it, but we would expect that it is in the order of $340 million. Light rail is something the government are going to magically build with no government funds. On their own numbers, the first stage of light rail is going to cost in the vicinity of $600 million to $800 million. We know that it is over $2 billion already, but it goes further than that and it is more concerning than that. Mr Barr has pointed out that there is no cost at which light rail will not go ahead. This was one of the more extraordinary things we have heard from a Treasurer in recent times. It goes to the fact that the Labor Party were prepared to take government at any cost to the community, and light rail is an expression of that. They were happy to sign a blank cheque. If that costs taxpayers $600 million they will do it. If it costs taxpayers $1 billion they will do it. Based on what Mr Barr said, if it were to blow out to $1.5 billion or $2 billion, they will do it.

I think that this is at the heart of Mr Hanson’s motion—that you cannot just have a blank cheque. In the end someone has to pay, and it is the taxpayers of the ACT who will be paying for this Green-Labor government. Parties like the Labor Party should actually have some standards when they are negotiating. They say, “No, we can’t sign a blank cheque. We can work with you on this and this, but we’re not prepared to sell our souls just in order to stay in government.” That is, unfortunately, exactly what they have done.

I commend Mr Hanson’s motion. I think it is a very strong motion. It is a motion that highlights the serious consequences of deals that are done after an election. I do not think there is anyone in the community who would have voted for a blank cheque for light rail. That is what we are now being told. We are now being told that they have got a blank cheque for light rail. No doubt there will be blank cheques for all sorts of other things that people did not vote for.

Mr Hanson is spot-on in keeping the government to account and highlighting the serious costs that are coming to the community with every deal that is done between the Greens and Labor. Whether they have a sham divorce at some point in these four years, who knows? But we know that before that time, before the sham divorce or the sham break-up or the sham get-back-together, they will have cost taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. Mr Hanson has done very well to highlight that. I commend his motion to the Assembly.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.17), in reply: I would like to thank members for their contributions. It has been a lively debate. I think it has been a useful exercise in exploring the differences between this side of the chamber and the other side of the chamber. It is quite clearly a matter, when it comes down to it, of fiscal responsibility, of concern for the hip pockets of Canberrans, as opposed to an ideology being delivered at any cost and regardless of the consequence for Canberrans.

We on this side are very focused on making sure that the policies that we implement and the government implements are affordable, are within reasonable budgetary

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