Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3123 ..
We have another example where we are being asked to pass a very large budget but the minister cannot answer the most basic questions about what is in that budget. He can answer some headlines, he can tell us how much the virtual district court will cost, he can tell us about a couple of announcements, but when it comes to some real basics about how this money will be spent, this minister cannot tell us, and he is not the only one. He is not alone, unfortunately; it goes right across the board. That goes to the credibility of this budget; it goes to the openness of this budget; it goes to the transparency of this government.
We are at 1 July; the new financial year has started. Today is coalition tax cut day. People are getting their tax cuts from the former coalition government, but what they are getting is tax increases from ACT Labor. What we should be able to get at the beginning of the financial year is some idea of where the government are going to spend the money they are asking us to appropriate. I would have thought it would be fairly reasonable for Simon Corbell to be able to say for each expense, revenue or capital measure reported in budget paper 3 which applies to his department what staffing increase is required. That is one question that he could not answer. Surely you would know what the staffing increase would be for the initiatives for each expense.
Why would you not be able to answer that, Mr Corbell? Is it because you have not done the work? Is it because you have just asked for a bucket of money and you do not know how you are going to spend it? Is it because you do not want to tell us? If that is the case, what we have is a government and a minister who are just showing contempt for the Assembly. What is the point of having an estimates process where we ask questions if they simply will not be answered?
I am not talking about complex questions; I am talking some of the most basic, fundamental questions about how will you spend taxpayers’ money? It is interesting to note what the minister did take the time to answer. The minister spent time answering the question about what he has delivered on time and on budget. He went trawling through the past to try and find something that he delivered on time and on budget. He found water-saving shower heads—and good luck to him that he was able to deliver the water-saving shower heads on time and on budget—but why could he not actually do the work of answering the basic questions about his budget?
What we are debating today is whether to pass this budget. This government seems to take it for granted—it may have received those kinds of assurances from the Greens—that no matter what is in the budget and no matter what they answer, it will be passed. That appears to be the case, and that is unfortunate. They are treating it in the same way they used to treat it when they had a majority government. They have got the tick-off from Ms Hunter; they got the tick-off at the beginning of the process. They are not going to be bothered with answering those pesky questions about how they will be spending money. They will spend money however they see fit. It is only if this Assembly stands up to them that they will change that. At the moment, it is only the Liberal Party that will ask them those questions and stand up to them on these issues.
I highlight it again because it is important that we get answers. We have got a massive budget deficit projected and we have examples of poor priorities, wasted expenditure and service delivery that is not there. With ambulances, for instance, we see most