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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 April 2008) . . Page.. 1146 ..


To suggest that the efficiency dividends required this year are abnormal or unusual and that public sector organisations should not be required to make efficiency dividends is a ridiculous proposition. If the suggestion is that the ACT will not benefit from having exhibitions held only in the ACT and that the ACT tourism industry will not benefit from that, we should look, for example, at the From Turner to Monet exhibition being held at the moment. The fact that it is only being held at the National Gallery of Australia has meant that we have had a significant increase in the number of people coming to the ACT, in order to view that exhibition. And may there be many, many more that are Canberra-only. I look forward to there being more Canberra-only and ACT-only major blockbusters by our cultural institutions.

But I digress, Mr Deputy Speaker, because it is worth noting that the fundamental reason for undertaking these sorts of reforms, looking for efficiency dividends and looking to reduce expenditure is to realign expenditure to key priority areas in order to undertake the massive reform agenda that is necessary in this country. It is worth noting that, for the final 10 years of the Howard government, reform was off the agenda. The only area that they thought worthy of reform was effectively to go into competition with the states and territories on service delivery. I refer, for example, to the Australian technical colleges or to seeking to purchase a hospital in a marginal seat in Tasmania. Going into direct competition with the states and territories was their idea of reform.

We need national leadership on a national reform agenda, and that is what we are getting out of COAG. It is terrific to see that, under the leadership of Prime Minister Rudd, COAG is revitalised. It is signalling a fresh and genuine approach to making our federation work. This reform agenda is a historic opportunity, a once-in-a-generation opportunity, to achieve significant reform across a range of areas in our federation. The Council of Australian Governments is now meeting four times a year and it has established seven working committees, in the areas of health and ageing, productivity, skills and training, early childhood, climate change and water, infrastructure, business regulation and competition, housing, and Indigenous affairs.

These are ambitious issues, but the ACT fully supports this national reform agenda. There will be a change in the nature of commonwealth-state funding arrangements as a result of these reforms. The federal government is seeking to focus more on outputs and outcomes, underpinned by a commitment from the commonwealth government to provide incentive payments to drive these reforms. This will include reforms of specific purpose payments to the states and territories.

Already, in the area of health, we have seen the commonwealth put additional money on the table where it was needed—a reinvestment back into the public health system, and a crucial investment for our country. The other areas of reform, and those most particularly related to my portfolio areas, are around a range of initiatives in education and training—the national secondary schools computer fund—

Mr Smyth: What about jobs and business in the ACT?

MR BARR: the broadband rollout for our schools, early childhood education, the investment of $45 million in trades training centres in the ACT, the additional training


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