Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2066..
MR BERRY (continuing):
then having to come back in because it is your turn to do overtime and having to front another torrid shift.
Mr Speaker, I have some experience in that myself. I remember some years ago when we went through a particularly tough bushfire season here in the ACT and there was a lot of overtime being worked. I happened to be doing a little bit of overtime one evening and there was a fire at the National Library, and I can tell you I wished I hadn't taken the shift on. It was not much fun. If you have to work additional hours in those sorts of stressful conditions, it's only then that you get to fully understand the pressure that this brings on people in emergency services.
I am pleased that the government has acknowledged that they are going to employ another 48 firefighters. I am extremely disappointed that it is going to take 15 months because the situation by then will have changed because another dozen or so will have retired. This episode, I think, is a low point of the government's approach to jobs. It shows that the government does not really care about filling jobs within its own ranks. In fact, all it seems to care about is cutting jobs from the public service and making some savings around it.
I will go back to Totalcare for a minute. Totalcare, we found, is being forced to shed its jobs because of the inexcusable loss of the contract with Housing. It is selling assets to pay out the redundancy of the workers it is having to shed. Territory assets are being sold to fund redundancies in Totalcare. It's a bit like a Trojan Horse. We get all of these services and then, as the government backs away from support for these organisations, the excuse then is that we have to sell assets to pay the redundancies. That in fact is what is happening.
Mr Speaker, that is all I need to say in relation to the Estimates Committee report at this point, unless something comes up out of the woodwork.
MR SPEAKER: The member's time has expired. Members, I would like to remind you that we are now debating the Appropriation Bill. Each member has two periods of 10 minutes on each item. In the event that each member takes that full 20 minutes we will be here for 41/4 days. What I suggest is that that 20 minutes be the maximum. I would urge members not to grant any further extensions of time. I say that not wishing to inhibit debate, but it does not seem unreasonable to me that members, who after all are experienced, should be able to get their message across in two periods of 10 minutes each relating to the particular item. We are not here for a filibuster, we are not here for a subject ramble, and we are not here for a general talk; we are here to address the Appropriation Bill and, as agreed by the Assembly, the report of the Select Committee on Estimates. I would ask all members to cooperate.
MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (4.57): Mr Speaker, I will respond extremely briefly to what Mr Berry has had to say. It had very little to do, of course, with the Auditor-General, but I will respond briefly to some of the issues.
Mr Berry talked up the estimates committee process, saying it had been a very good one, that people had worked very hard and so forth, and that I have been attacking the process throughout this period. I only draw the house's attention to a report brought down last