Page 2993 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022
Finally, I will say a few words on the government response to the estimates committee report on the Appropriation Bill. I note that, in the government response tabled yesterday afternoon, out of 143 recommendations by the committee, the government acknowledged that the recommendation was “part of existing government policy” in response to 45 recommendations. Something is very wrong with how this government is implementing its policies if there are 45 recommendations that are allegedly part of existing government policy.
I am disappointed but not surprised that this government has not taken time to understand the recommendations or simply has sidestepped the substance of the recommendations entirely. There are many examples that my colleagues will no doubt address in greater detail. But, as an example, recommendation 74 of the committee states:
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government publish a timeline for the construction of the Reintegration Centre.
Madam Speaker, you would think that is a pretty straightforward recommendation. The government response is, “Noted.” It continues:
ACT Corrective Services is working to optimise the utilisation of the existing Transitional Release Centre. Work is also underway to assess the current and future infrastructure needs of the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Both of these will inform future budget outcomes regarding the Centre.
It is not very clear, from that response, whether the reintegration centre that was announced by the Attorney-General with much fanfare is actually going to be built at all, let alone when it is going to be built. The Treasurer, in his tabling statement, said:
I do note that many of the recommendations go to additional expenditure proposals across government. But the committee has not made any recommendations about how to raise additional revenue to fund these proposals, or indicated which areas of existing expenditure could be cut to fund them.
Wasn’t that the Treasurer’s job, Madam Speaker? He repeatedly spent a lot of time criticising the Canberra Liberals and accusing them of trying to outsource fiscal policy, in response to our call for an independent review of the budget, yet what do we have here? The Treasurer is retorting that the estimates committee should be telling the Treasurer how to raise additional revenue.
The role of the committee is to highlight areas of need, not to do the Treasurer’s job for him. It is a tripartisan committee, as we know, with two of the three committee members being members of the government. After a belated start, hearings were held over 11 days and involved many community groups and government officials. The recommendations and observations of the committee should not be taken so lightly by the Treasurer.
Another popular line in the government response, which appears no less than 15