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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3242 ..

Activities that utilise the Treasurer’s advance should be subject to much closer scrutiny. The purpose of the Treasurer’s advance is to fund extraordinary and unexpected charges that the government finds, but we had the extraordinary statement from the Treasurer last week about the Treasurer’s advance when she said when tabling the document showing a spending binge of $19 million that:

This saving demonstrates the government’s ability to control costs and our strong track record on financial management.

What a load of nonsense. The Treasurer is arguing that, because the government did not use all of the Treasurer’s advance, this shows that the Labor government has control of costs. This completely misunderstands the purpose of the Treasurer’s advance. The Treasurer’s advance does not exist to be spent; rather, the Treasurer’s advance is a backup for those occasions where this is an urgent and unforeseen need for additional funds.

The fact that $14 million out of $37 million allocated to the Treasurer’s advance was not spent in the 2009-10 appropriation is not evidence of cost control. On the contrary, under the Labor government, it is evidence of an inability to control costs—reference requests in 2009-10 from TAMS for an additional $19 million; education, an additional $7 million; Bimberi, an additional $1 million; and CMD, an additional $0.6 million. That is contrasted with 2008-09 where TAMS received an additional $8 million; Disability, Housing and Community Services, an additional $5 million; JACS, an additional $3 million; and ACTPLA, an additional $3 million.

Concerns about the rationale for requests to access the Treasurer’s advance exist. It is hard to see the basis for satisfying the urgency requirement. It is more likely to be a failure to budget properly or to effectively manage. I am also concerned about the failure of the Treasurer to impose her authority on departments and agencies to contain costs and achieve savings.

There is, of course, the final charge. The Treasurer also said last Thursday that she would table the final charge against the 2009-10 Treasurer’s advance. These are identical words that were used in the documents that were tabled on 18 August 2009. I am not aware of the final charge having been tabled last week or, indeed, this week. I recall that you, Treasurer, failed to table the final charge for 2008-09, apparently due to an administrative oversight. I will remind you of your letter from last year where you said:

I can report that the Final Charge has not yet been tabled due to an administrative oversight. I have asked the Treasury to review their processes to ensure that this does not occur again

I think the Treasurer apologised to the Assembly for the failure at that time. What did she say at the time? She said that she would get Treasury to review their processes. I am not sure if she you tabled it today. I certainly did not see it. It looks like perhaps she has failed again. It looks like either Treasury ignored the Treasurer or their new processes failed their first test. Yet again, there is work to be done inside the Treasury by this Treasurer.

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