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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1926..


MR SPEAKER: Order, members! A question has been asked, and somebody is about to try to answer it.

MR QUINLAN: A large slice of the federal budget was based on Mr Howard's fortress Australia, which is about what is euphemistically called border protection. Some of the numbers that you mentioned included the police.

In my discussion on the federal budget, I think I used the term "brass hats". I said we do not know exactly how many of the additional public sector employees will be stationed in Canberra. I made a jest that I thought our borders were relatively safe, that border protection would be likely to occur on the borders, and that therefore we could not say with certainty just how much of that particular growth to which you referred would occur in Canberra.

However, I did have some optimism that there would be an increase in the number of brass hats supervising that increase in employment, and I think I did express the opinion that there may well be some increase in public sector employment.

MR HUMPHRIES: Do you expect then that the net employment growth from the Commonwealth budget-the brass hats, as you put it-will be sufficient to offset the net employment loss to the ACT as a result of your government's across-the-board 2 per cent productivity savings?

MR QUINLAN: I will just take the increase. As I have said, I do believe there is a probability of an employment increase at the Commonwealth level-among the brass hats. Further, I should have said in the previous answer that I expect it will occur in taxation, because a considerable amount of additional funds are being applied in the Taxation Office for compliance with GST legislation.

Let me say immediately that increase is being funded by the states and territories in turn. That comes out of GST money directly, and that is part of agreements struck at the last council of treasurers meeting.

Regarding ACT employment: we have a budget coming down in three weeks, and no doubt we will discuss this matter at greater length when that occurs.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Quinlan. Before I take the next question, can I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of 65 students from year 10 at Canberra Girls Grammar School.

Information technology

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Deputy Chief Minister. Can the Deputy Chief Minister advise the house about the successful ACT bid for the federal government's information and communication technology centre of excellence?

MR QUINLAN: Yes, the politically astute among you will recall that, as far back as 1998 at the annual conference of the local Labor Party, I brought down a policy that depicted Canberra as a knowledge-based economy. Not long in government, Mr Speaker,


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