Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 March 2010) . . Page.. 989 ..
will know, we have a balanced budget for this year; we do not need to seek further savings.
As I said yesterday, it was about sending a message to agencies that business as usual is not the way ahead; that they need to start thinking about staffing resources in their agencies. That is the message that was sent, and I would imagine that that is something that the Liberals would normally have agreed with had they not been wanting to play politics with it. We are taking preventative measures to stop a bigger problem from next year. That is the message we have sent to agencies. That is clear in the advice that has gone to agencies.
We accept that there are a number of recruitment processes underway that will need to continue. We accept that there are essential staffing resources that need to be replaced. But we need chief executives—and not just chief executives but staff below the chief executives—to start thinking and to understand that the budget is under additional pressure because of the decision of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
It was a sensible, responsible thing to do. It has been accepted without complaint. We did not attach savings to it. We are not seeking that. We have already taken savings this year to our budget and met those savings. The unallocated savings task is next year, and that is what the budget processes are currently working through.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Coe, a supplementary?
MR COE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. What taxes will be raised to deal with the budget problems?
MS GALLAGHER: Mr Coe will have to wait until 4 May to find out, but I can say that the government is looking at all options in relation to revenue and in relation to expenditure, as you do. We do this every year. I think I have that question every year. I think every other Treasurer has had that question in March every year—the Liberal Party trying to get us to rule out tax increases. I will not rule out tax increases; I will not rule out further savings measures; I will not rule out further spending measures either. That is exactly what the budget cabinet is currently working through in a way that seeks to deliver the best budget for this community that we can deliver in the context of the financial situation we are in.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Hargreaves, a supplementary question?
MR HARGEAVES: Minister, is it not true that in 1994-95, the then Treasurer—I think it was Mr Humphries—actually introduced a staff freeze to get himself out of a budget hole? Therefore, is the fact that the question is coming from those opposite an admission that they are incompetent in budgetary matters? And is it not true that a freeze is a very real tool for governments to bring their budgets into line?
Mrs Dunne: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, the standing orders about supplementary questions are quite precise about them being precise. On top of that, Mr Humphries was not the Treasurer in 1994-95. In fact, I do not think he was on the treasury bench.