Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2730 ..
addiction to spending money in all sorts of areas—in government propaganda, in wasteful projects, in questionable projects.
This is a government that is addicted to spending, and now it is asking us to pass the budget without telling us what is in it. It will not tell us. We asked a series of questions, many of which were very simple. I believe that one of these questions may even be reflected in the main report of the committee—and perhaps Ms Hunter can comment on that.
But it was a very simple question that was asked in relation to Territory and Municipal Services. I think it was asked of other agencies as well. It says:
Please provide a list of initiatives or programs that are run under each output.
a. What is the budgeted cost for each …
b. How many staff … work in each …
c. What capital equipment is required …
d. What specialist skills are required …
The answer was:
Data is not available in the form and at the level of disaggregation requested without diversion of significant resources from TAMS ongoing business that I am not prepared to authorize.
This is what makes up the budget. What we get in the budget papers—and this is actually commented on in the main report, I understand; it was certainly commented on in the committee discussions—is very basic information about where money is going. We get headline figures on output classes, and we say: “Please provide some more details. Please provide a list of initiatives. Surely, you know what the initiatives will be in your budget, and how much you are expecting they will cost.” And they say, “No, that’s too much work.” It is not too much work. You do not want to tell us. This government do not want to tell us what is actually in their budget, lest it be embarrassing, lest we be able to ask further questions about it.
That is an outrageous answer. And it goes throughout. Across the board, ministers are simply refusing to answer questions. We will go through it line by line in each of these portfolios, where ministers are saying: “Trust me. Trust me on how we’re spending taxpayers’ money. We haven’t actually done the internal budget, we’re not prepared to even give you a basic list of initiatives under output classes.”
One of the frustrations of the committee, across the board, was that there is vague information given in budget papers, and it is reasonable that we ask questions about it. Not even that basic level of detail was provided. So it is a budget that is not transparent. They are hiding the detail, and we know the wasteful spending in it every year that it comes out. We go through the list, and we remember. We recall. While Mr Corbell is in the chamber perhaps we can recall the $5 million that he wasted on a