Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2251..
MR STEFANIAK: Scrutiny report No 34 contains the committee's comments on eight bills, 61 pieces of subordinate legislation and two government responses. I commend the report to the Assembly.
Appropriation Bill 2002-2003 (No 3)
Debate resumed from 6 May 2003, on motion by Mr Quinlan:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR SMYTH(Leader of the Opposition) (10.52): The opposition will be supporting Appropriation Bill (No 3), but we have a couple of questions for the Treasurer that we would like answered. The purpose of the bill is to provide an additional $23.9 million to meet a clerical wage increase and back pay, some bushfire recovery costs and a new paramedic skills allowance.
The break-up of the $23.9 million is as follows: $19.489 million is for a 6.5 per cent clerical wage increase, backdated to October 2002; $3.374 million is for the Department of Urban Services to spend on bushfire recovery activities; $630,000 is for ACT Forests to clean up burnt areas in Duffy, and for aerial grass seeding of denuded areas; and $500,000 is for the ACT Ambulance Service to fund the new paramedic skills allowance awarded by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in September 2002.
Mr Speaker, this bill was not specifically referred to either the PAC or the Estimates Committee. In agreement with the Treasurer, it was thought best for questions to be asked during the estimates process. Questions were asked across a number of these areas during that process.
Working in reverse, the funding for the ACT Ambulance Service was awarded last September, and it is appropriate that it is included. One could ask the question as to whether it should be in Appropriation Bill (No 2), which would have been the first opportunity to do so. You would have to ask whether or you not can spend the $500,000 appropriated today between now and the end of the financial year. That is one of the questions for the Treasurer. I would appreciate it if he would answer how that money will be spent between now and 30 June.
We spoke to Mr Bartlett, from ACT Forests, about the $630,000 for the clean-up and the aerial seeding. The clean-up of the burnt trees in Duffy was very important-and we commend the government for the way that has been handled. Especially important is the aerial seeding of the denuded areas, simply because that had to be done urgently. We commend the government for making sure that has happened.
Regarding the $3.374 million for Urban Services spent on bushfire recovery activities, it is also important that those activities have occurred. I will go through those a little later.
This leaves the clerical wage increase, which has already been paid. Last Thursday-20 June-was the final pay day in the 2002-03 financial year. The $19.489 million which the Treasurer is asking the Assembly to appropriate, or approve today, has