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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 920..


MR WOOD (continuing):

I have acknowledged the calls of Ms Tucker and the Master Plumbers Association for an investigation into the possibility of large numbers of illegal connections from stormwater to sewer resulting in the pollution. I have been advised that this matter has been previously investigated and will continue to be so, but previous testing has shown that there is no evidence to support this contention.

A 1996 report on smoke testing undertaken by Actew shows that sewer defects were detected in 4 per cent of the properties tested. Of those, only one per cent-still too much-were illegal connections. Such a small number would not be expected to have a significant impact on sewage flows. This evidence is supported by sewer flow measurements in February of this year.

Assuming that the problem is just sewer related, putting fixes such as PipeCheck in place, as suggested, could be expensive, but with little impact. It would be more likely that the contamination was caused by a number of problems and that fixing the problems required an integrated solution.

Public service-job cuts

MRS CROSS: My question is to Mr Quinlan, as the Treasurer. During the last election campaign the present government promised that there would be no cuts to public service positions. However, the Canberra Times of 21 March this year reported you as saying:

I hope there will be no job cuts.

Can the Treasurer assure ACT government public servants that there will be no cuts to the public service, and can he assure the community that there will be no cuts to public service positions providing important services to the public?

MR QUINLAN: To answer the second question first: the answer is no. To answer the first part of it: certainly this government will work to ensure that there are no enforced redundancies. But I have to tell you that the position we find ourselves in when we take a closer look at the finances of the ACT does leave us in a position where this budget process is going to be quite difficult.

Let me just take it from the top. A year or so ago, when the government brought down its budget, it brought down a capital budget which was twice the size of the normal annual budget. It doesn't take much to work out that the territory's finances can't digest that sort of level of increase in expenditure. That, of course, was reflected if you looked at the cash line in the budget. The unencumbered cash of the territory was running down at an alarming rate. We are still facing, in large part, that situation.

In addition, we have such things as a Williamsdale quarry, which is going to cost millions to back out of. We find coming through losses from CTEC going back the best part of two years-the best part of $21/2 million. I did actually read my little check list of the Humphries legacy into Hansard yesterday. I don't think I have got it with me. Yes, I just happened to find it here.


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