Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2798 ..
I note that in the estimates hearings TAMS officials referred to the continuing high levels of public satisfaction with TAMS’s service delivery. They were commonly around 80, 90 or 95 per cent, as quoted in the budget. These are good results, but like Mr Rattenbury I have some questions about them. They only cover a few areas of TAMS’s operations. Where do they actually get their responses from? One of them, for instance, was an 80 per cent satisfaction with maintenance and pruning of street trees. Where do they find the people who said that, because there is certainly quite a different feeling from the emails I have been getting in my office?
Another example, which I am sure is actually more accurate, was that 95 per cent of saleable stray and abandoned dogs were re-homed. That is a very good result. It is going to be very interesting for the Assembly and the public to keep on with these new areas of monitoring, find out how TAMS is improving and find out the impact that the funding management issues have had on TAMS’s service delivery.
Another key issue, of course, is what the government chooses to prioritise within its limited funding for TAMS. The Greens are not confident here that the government is making the right strategic decisions through the budget to position Canberra for the future. Business as usual is not going to provide us with long-term prosperity. In fact, all it will do is create more problems for future generations and future governments to deal with. We can see this in the TAMS budget. I want to pick up on Mr Stanhope’s comments from the estimates hearings. He said:
In an ideal world, of course, we would have loved to provide significant additional funding to enhance our capacity to divert waste from landfill.
This is what the government says every year. I would contend that providing this extra funding is a matter of prioritisation. It should be a priority. Diverting waste from landfill is a priority that continually falls too low on the government’s list. Since I have been in the Assembly I have seen the government answer every waste question in the same way. It boasts that the ACT has the best resource recovery rates in the country. But we must be close to losing this record. The budget papers now paint a picture of how the government has continually de-prioritised waste over the last five years or so.
Our peak of resource recovery occurred in the 2005-06 financial year. It has dipped since. Even the Greens’ cost-efficient budget initiatives in the area of waste were ignored in this budget. For example, we could have started the organic waste recycling residential trial with a mere half a million dollars. Battery or compact fluorescent light globe recycling drop-off points could have been implemented for about $12,000 and this would have kept toxic materials out of landfill. They are cheap, effective measures to keep mercury and other highly toxic materials out of our environment.
As Ms Bresnan pointed out in the estimates hearings, the government’s lack of attention to waste funding comes despite the warning of the 2008 independent review of the no waste strategy. It said:
Faced with growing total quantities of waste, it is an unacceptable expectation that the ACT Government can consider reducing, or even containing at current levels, the current budget.