Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2787 ..
the last year the government conducted any review on its triennial funding program. Through my questions and Ms Hunter’s questions on the issue in estimates, the government conceded that hire fees increase every year by CPI. The reason why triennial funding did not match increases in CPI, Mr Barr conceded, is just a budget issue. Even as it was noted by the government that hire fees increased by CPI, Mr Barr was insistent on not having increased funding thresholds over the last eight years. In his words:
We have not indexed the operational assistance to CPI. Undoubtedly, there would be the argument: why pick CPI; why not pick some other form of indexation? Ultimately, it is a budget issue. It means your grants program would just spiral out and out, potentially out of control.
I suppose this would happen when the territory’s revenues are channelled to fund the minister’s legacy projects and not to community programs. It was, however, surprising to see that the minister came to his senses. In a June media release it was announced:
Local peak sporting groups will be able to apply for ACT Government funding of up to $60,000 a year from 2011 to help them run and grow their sport, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation Andrew Barr announced today.
The minister was quoted in saying:
We recognise that increases in salaries, insurance and facilities hiring costs are placing increased pressure on the ACT’s community sporting organisations. In order to ensure the ACT remains the most active and healthy community in Australia we are increasing the amount of operational assistance peak local sporting groups can apply for through the Sport and Recreation Grants Program.
It only took eight years for that realisation to sink in with Mr Barr, and it is obviously only a coincidence that this Andrew Barr backflip occurred after this glaring anomaly was highlighted through estimates.
Instances like this do make being an elected member of this Assembly meaningful. We have enabled the minister to consider his position and to do the right thing by Canberrans. Yet at the same time we can say that Mr Barr has yet again done a backflip, a backflip that we are becoming more and more used to. That said, I do hope that the minister is genuinely increasing financial support for the triennial funding program and not merely shifting funds from other initiatives that will then be left short of funds themselves.
Lastly, I would like to express our interest in following developments on how the government would be assisting sports organisations in the ACT to generate their own revenue streams. The minister did not articulate whether the economic impact study would be used as a foundation to look into possible revenue generation models for sport in the ACT or as an initial basis for a more commercially focused sports industry plan. If this were not the case, this would seem like a wasted opportunity.
This is a budget that is not accurate. It has unrealistically pessimistic and incorrect economic indicators such as employment numbers, which forced the Treasury recall.