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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1239..

Budget—functional and strategic review

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received letters from Mrs Burke, Mrs Dunne, Dr Foskey, Mr Pratt, Mr Seselja, Mr Smyth and Mr Stefaniak proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Mrs Burke be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The Functional and Strategic Review of Government Structures and Programs, also known as the Functional Review of the ACT Budget, and its effect on the ACT Government, business and community.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (4.32): Mr Speaker, the matter of public importance we are debating today is the functional and strategic review of government structures and programs, also known as the functional review of the ACT budget, and its effect on the ACT government, business and community.

I want to emphasise at this point that the correct name for the Costello review is the functional review of the ACT budget. I mention this because it is evident that a key focus of the Costello review has been on financial aggregates, with particular reference on expenditure. It is important to be clear about this, because there has been a deal of obfuscation about the role of the Costello review: there is no doubt that its prime focus has been on financial matters. Indeed, four of the five specific terms of reference for Mr Costello dealt with financial matters in the context of the ACT budget. Three of the terms instruct Mr Costello to examine the level of expenditure on programs and options for reducing spending.

Of course, we do not know what is in the report of the Costello review because, in the interests of "open and transparent"government, to use the Chief Minister's own overworked phrase, Mr Stanhope has denied the community the opportunity to read what Mr Costello has said and to test what Mr Costello has concluded. He has maintained a surreptitious approach, in complete contrast to his colleague in New South Wales, Premier Iemma, who released the report of the audit of the New South Wales finances in February this year. Surely nothing could be as bad as the state of the New South Wales finances—or perhaps could it?

As we have emphasised over recent days, Mr Stanhope clearly became very concerned about the calls from across the community for the Costello report to be released. It is interesting to see that he is laughing now; he thinks it is very funny that the community are not going to be consulted, so I hope that they are listening to this or will read the Hansard. Indeed, Mr Stanhope became so concerned that he authorised Michael Costello to brief selected business leaders from the ACT community about the content of the report. In turn, he also authorised Michael Costello to brief certain senior ACT union officials about the content of the report. Of course, again not considering the interests of accountability, the Chief Minister has chosen the path of not facilitating—and refuses to do so—similar briefings to be given to representatives of the community sector in the ACT, nor to representatives of the broader union movement in the ACT.

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