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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 1473..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

into really idiotic statements like that there are 500 three-bedroom homes lying idle—because she got it confused with the statement that they are the equivalence of 500 homes with bedrooms in overentitlement. She has got it wrong. She has been sprung again. She ought to do the honourable thing and stand up and apologise, admit she got it wrong, or surrender her shadow portfolio to someone with the intelligence to do it properly.

Budget—Chief Minister's Department

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, it has become apparent that the 2007-08 budget provides for an extra 22 policy officers in the Chief Minister's Department at a cost of $9.2 million over four years. In light of your unwillingness to take questions from the floor about the budget at your expensive fundraiser last night and your sidestepping of this particular issue at the business council breakfast this morning, can you now tell the Assembly what is the purpose of this additional policy team and who has fulfilled the role over the last five years of your government?

MR STANHOPE: I welcome the question from the shadow Treasurer. As I think everybody is aware, the government has embarked—actually it did it over the last two years—on some significant efficiencies within the ACT public service. They are not restricted just to the last year; indeed, over the last two years there has been significant and ongoing restructuring and the generation of efficiencies throughout all agencies. I do not have a final count, but I think it is fair to assume that in the last two years there have been somewhere in the order of 1,000 reductions in overall staffing levels within the ACT public service. I think there would have been a reduction in public service staffing across the board of somewhere in the order of 1,000 in the last two years and a bit.

As I indicated earlier today, in the last year the ACT public service lost 500 permanent employees and somewhere in the order of 200 casual and part-time employees from its establishment. As everybody is aware, there have been across the board some quite rigorous cuts and changes to the nature of departments as a result of decisions announced in last year's budget. There have been significant cuts to the Chief Minister's Department, as there have been significant cuts to other areas of ACT government administration.

I have indicated that I was as rigorous in seeking those efficiencies in order to implement last year's budget in relation to areas for which I was administratively responsible as I was in relation to areas for which my colleagues—other ministers—were responsible. That has resulted in a significant reduction in capacity within the Chief Minister's Department—the central agency of the ACT public service, an agency that is important in terms of cross-government policy development and delivery of advice.

Because of the gains that have been achieved as a result of the efficiencies demanded last year and because of the emerging needs and priorities—central and across the board—I and the government have resolved to restore some policy capacity and to enhance policy capacity within the Chief Minister's Department.

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