Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 March 2010) . . Page.. 1419 ..
government promised $165 million and they only delivered $110 million. We had an underspend of $54.5 million. In 2002-03, they promised $153 million and they only delivered $56.2 million. In 2003-04, it was $169.9 million and there was an underspend of $61 million. In 2004-05, they promised just short of a quarter of a billion dollars and there was an underspend of $118 million.
Anyone can make promises about how to spend money. We see it all the time from the government. Usually they are pretty good at wasting it. In this instance, they cannot even spend it—they cannot even spend it wastefully. They cannot spend the money properly that the ACT community entrusts to them. In 2005-06, $314 million was meant to be spent on capital works and there was an underspend of $151 million. In 2006-07, $353 million was promised and there was an underspend of $135 million. It goes on and on and on. Repeatedly we see in the ACT government an inability to invest Canberrans’ money properly.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s motion today is spot-on in noting the complete and utter failure of the Stanhope Labor government to manage the ACT budget sustainably. When you hear this government talk about sustainability, the only thing they ever talk about is sustainability with regard to press releases on the environment. That is the only thing that is sustainable about this government. It is just lip-service when it comes to environmental issues.
Sustainability should be about having financial stability and financial sustainability as well. That is something we certainly do not have in the ACT. That is, of course, evident by the fact that if an externality kicks in, like an $85 million blow to the budget in GST, and you do not have proper risk management systems in place and you have not prepared for these sorts of externalities then it is going to be very hard to incorporate them. It is going to be very hard to handle them when they occur. And they do occur. They are externalities. They are variables beyond our control. You are meant to hedge a risk against those sorts of scenarios. Instead, we have a government that has not done that. We have a government that lives day to day, hand to mouth. We have a government that is unable to have a vision or a plan for the future.
Mr Seselja spoke about the Ernst & Young report. That is a particularly telling report of this government. I note that Mr Assistant Speaker Hargreaves has taken the chair. Indeed, he was the minister for a few years leading up to the report being commissioned. That report was pretty damning. It talked about cultural problems in a department. It talked about systemic cultural problems in a department which meant it could not do its job. It meant it could not do its core business. It meant it could not handle its money properly. It meant it could not deliver the services that Canberrans expected from it.
The report also said there was too much political interference. Not only could the department not spend money and deliver services properly but there was political interference as well. If there was political interference and if the political interference was positive, in that it may have resulted in some sort of action, it does not excuse it but it does at least give some explanation as to the political interference. But when you have political interference in a department and they still cannot spend money properly and deliver services properly then what is the political interference? What it