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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3244 ..

Taxes are going up; they are going up through the roof. There is a massive tax on housing, yet they are delivering deficits as far as the eye can see and services that continue to degrade. The priorities in this budget are wrong. We see that time and time again. Because they have not been able to control their spending, the people of the ACT do not get the appropriate services. We can look right across the board. In the health area we are doing so much worse than the rest of the country. People in the ACT are paying more and they are waiting longer and they are getting less, and this budget is another reflection of that.

This ACT Labor government would prefer to spend on their legacy projects than on the basic services that the people deserve. To pay for that, they continue to raise taxes. They have raised taxes every year, and we see it again with a massive tax on housing. This is a budget that is irresponsible; it does not deliver the core services. It delivers massive deficits, and that is why the Liberal Party in the ACT will not be supporting it.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (1:22 am): The bill provides for a reduction in the Treasurer’s advance from $36.8 million to $29 million, an approximate reduction of 21 per cent reduction in real terms. The Treasurer said that the reason for this is that agencies were required to stay within their appropriated budgets and that base funding has now been built into agencies’ budgets to ensure they do not need to access the Treasurer’s advance at the end of the year. The Treasurer said they took the view that they would not need to do that any longer because they have dealt with the base pressure in this budget.

The financial instruments tabled last week indicate that the total spent in the Treasurer’s advance last year was $23,229,000 less than the amount proposed to be appropriated in this bill. Over the last two weeks, almost $19 million was expended from the advance. Whilst I do understand that it makes sense that agencies would come seeking funds at the end of the year, I think there is an obvious level of discomfort that this occurs each year. The Greens support the initiative to obviate this, but we note that it is curious that the amount provided for is still greater than the previous year’s expenditure. The Greens support the proposed reduction and are pleased with the new strategy.

There was a considerable amount of discussion during the estimates hearing about whether or not this was a real saving as opposed to a reallocation to agencies. There is an obvious difficulty in saying that it is a saving if the money that is not being spent in this line item is being spent in other line items as base funding. The only way this could be a saving would be if it led to improved efficiency. It is a better process, but I am not sure that it is, in fact, a saving. Given that the amount is still less than what was actually spent, it does make it particularly difficult to categorise it this way.

To some extent, this is a semantic point. The real issue is the policy decision to attempt to reduce the call on the discretionary fund and provide the money in the budget so that we all have a chance to see where it goes beforehand rather than afterwards in financial instruments under the Financial Management Act. With those general comments in mind, the Greens will support the line item.

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