Page 2218 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 4 August 2015

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MR COE: Chief Minister, why did the letter include the figure of $900 million when the previously published figure for the light rail business case was $614 million?

MR BARR: That was an estimate from an official in another agency, a mid-level official who had no authority to make such assessments. He was not in a position to make such statements. So the wording of the letter indicated, as has been quoted extensively, no exact figure in relation to the project.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Chief Minster, what confidence do you have in your government promoting the city when you have people who are not authorised spruiking the wrong figures about major infrastructure projects?

MR BARR: In relation to this particular matter, the official concerned put a range—the letter was deliberately ambiguous. That is a reasonable approach given the time at which the correspondence was undertaken, before the final business case. The letter was worded in that way for that reason.

Mr Coe: Point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Point of order, Mr Coe. Stop the clock, please.

Mr Coe: Madam Speaker, the question was: how can the Chief Minister have confidence in his government? I ask that he be directly relevant to that question.

MADAM SPEAKER: I draw the Chief Minister’s attention to the terms of the standing order and ask him to be directly relevant in his answer to the question.

MR BARR: This government has an outstanding record of attracting new investment into this community, and we will continue to approach national and international markets in order to seek new investment. I know those opposite have campaigned against the ACT government seeking investment. They have been described as economic lunatics by their own Prime Minister, Treasurer and the minister for infrastructure in the federal arena. I will not be taking any lectures on economics from the economic lunatics opposite.

Capital works—projects

MS LAWDER: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. We have seen cuts in funding to several projects previously promised by the government. The number of beds at the University of Canberra hospital has been reduced, the scope of the duplication of Ashley Drive has been reduced and funding for the refurbishment of Belconnen High School has been significantly cut. Chief Minister, why has funding been cut for numerous capital works projects in hospitals, schools and roads while funding for light rail is being increased?

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