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That is why in 1995-96 we still have financial problems. We did not have a comprehensive, cohesive, sensible borrowing program over the years of Labor; we had a program of spending the reserves, of depleting the cupboard. The former and first-appointed Auditor-General of the ACT made the comment on one occasion, “Mother Hubbard left the cupboard bare”. It was the Auditor-General of the Territory who said that, and he was absolutely right.
So, it is time that this ACT Government picked up the work, which was started under the Alliance Government, to restructure the way the Government does its business, to do away with redundancy, to do away with functions that we need not be performing, to turn our public service into an efficient organisation and to restructure it so that it does what we want it to do and not the functions that were inherited from the Commonwealth six years ago. I ask anybody to tell me: In what significant way did the Labor Party change the nature and the functions of our public service during its terms in office over the last six years? The answer is: Not at all. It took them five years to establish our own public service, and, when they did, they merely set in place what was there already under different legislation. They did not change the structure; they did not review what it was doing; they did not in any way improve its efficiency or its effectiveness; they did not even satisfy themselves that the functions that the public service is performing are the right ones. This is good government? You could have fooled me.
Their mismanagement in terms of the structures of the ACT public service is matched by their inefficiency and their lack of control in terms of our money. We should have effectively transitioned from the 1989 financial set-up to a 1995 set-up where we were standing on our own two feet, knowing what our own revenue base was, knowing what we were going to get from the Commonwealth and living within our means. Are we there? No, we are not. We are not there because of financial mismanagement by successive Labor governments under Chief Minister and Treasurer Rosemary Follett. There is a story, which is factual, that when Rosemary Follett first became Chief Minister and she was being briefed on the first budget she asked the Treasury officials what the brackets around the numbers meant. It is pretty clear that in 1995 she knows no more about financial accounting and budgeting than she did then. Yet she sat here last Thursday and criticised this Government's plans and intentions for the next six years. Mr Speaker, those plans and intentions are clearly to get the budget under control, to live within our means and to provide to the community of Canberra the services that are required at a cost that they can afford. That is what it is about.
For six years, with the exception of the 1½ years when we had an Alliance Government - when we conducted a priorities review to see what needed to be done and when we took an inventory of our assets and liabilities - the Labor Party had not even thought about doing that. We began to restructure the public service. That restructuring was immediately stopped in July 1991, when Rosemary Follett became Chief Minister and Treasurer again. Everything that we had started stopped, and the status quo has remained since then. It is time that we had a government that was prepared to bite the bullet, that was prepared to do the things that need to be done. We have it, Mr Speaker.