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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 2423..


MR MULCAHY (continuing):

the Assembly and this budget would have been an opportunity to address those issues, notwithstanding the austerity measures that are being applied across the board.

I will conclude with those observations. I believe there remain many issues that are frustrating to elected representatives. I believe the work of members is somewhat impeded by those frustrations. I understand the difficulties you have had in securing adequate budget for the operations of this facility, but there is scope for considerable improvement without verging into the area of extravagance to ensure that members have a range of services. It is not practical or realistic to say everybody must have the same software and everybody has to have identical equipment. There must be greater scope for flexibility. I know the intent of the DOA was to achieve that outcome. With my limited time in this place it seems to me to have become in many cases cost transference where what would be seen as reasonable day-to-day operational costs are being borne out of the member's allowance rather than it being there for extraordinary and unusual items.

I acknowledge I have not been part of the full history of how this evolved. One might well say I do not appreciate the developments that led to this point. But I know the limitations we face today and the challenges that members have operating in this place. There are issues such as maintenance in this building, and members have raised these issues. I understand that trying to stretch the dollar here has proved to be quite a challenge and I commend staff for trying to do that under the best possible circumstances. But I believe if we continue to go on the way we are, we are simply turning a blind eye to the fundamental issues facing the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.16): There were three recommendations from the estimates committee in regard to the Assembly—recommendations 28, 29 and 30. I see in the government's response that recommendations 28, 29 and 30 are simply noted. The government does not have a position on these. It flick-passed the responsibility to you and the Clerk without any acknowledgment of how much that is allocated to the Assembly has an impact down the line. There is a pattern here. A quick read of the government's response shows that 31 of the recommendations are noted, 12 are not agreed to, 10 are agreed to in principle or in part, 13 are agreed to in total, and about seven do not seem to have a stated position—they are neither agreed nor not agreed; there is just a comment. We will get to some of those later in the report. It is interesting that almost half are simply noted. There is no attempt by the government to detail a response. In the estimates there was not, in many cases, an attempt by the government to detail exactly how it would deliver its budget. I bring to the attention of members paragraph 6.19 on page 60 of the committee's report, which says:

However, the Committee was advised that there was some discrepancy in the capital upgrade allocation and this will be discussed with Treasury. The Committee was concerned about this lack of clarity in the allocations.

The simple point I make on this line in the budget is the lack of clarity. We asked specific questions be answered before the budget proceed. At a quick glance through the document very few of those have been answered. So the pattern continues. This is a government with no strategy, with no answers and with no detail—that cannot tell us how it is going to deliver the budget. If this is one of the smallest lines in the budget, it does not bode well for the passage of the rest of the budget.


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