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Given that three of these policy envelopes each report to three different Ministers, how is the creation of these envelopes in any way a rationalisation?

MRS CARNELL: I must admit that I find this line of questioning really interesting, because it appears that the Opposition believes that the efficient operating of a department is somehow related to which Minister it actually reports to, rather than to the structure of the actual department. We take a different view. We believe that the actual structure of the department - the way that departments actually operate and how they are put together - is substantially more important than which Minister they happen to report to. In fact, as I said earlier, our view is that ministerial responsibility is the basis of our system; but we have to make sure that those Ministers are actually good at what they do and actually have, wherever possible, background in those areas. The basis for the Administrative Arrangements changes that I made yesterday was that they streamline the way departments work. That creates efficiency. It creates better outputs. It makes sure that the focus is where it should be - on community services.

MR WHITECROSS: I have a supplementary question. Mrs Carnell, if it is rational to create portfolio groupings, grouping like functions within policy envelopes, why is it not similarly rational to have Ministers’ portfolios grouping like functions within policy envelopes? Is it the case that you do not trust your Ministers and you require multiple bureaucrats to keep an eye on them, or is it the case that you do not trust your bureaucrats and you need multiple Ministers to keep an eye on the bureaucrats?

MRS CARNELL: I will answer the question again. In an absolutely perfect world, where we had a much bigger Assembly, we would have one Minister and one department. That, unfortunately, would actually mean that we would have to trim the departments just a little bit further, and we did not think that was efficient. So, the basis of this approach is that we have five departments whose focus is on providing services to the community and one department servicing government. We think that is appropriate. Wherever possible, we have Ministers in the areas in which they have expertise, background and interest. We think that is the appropriate way to go. We also think it is appropriate to make sure that departments and policy envelopes reflect the most streamlined and most efficient way for our public service to operate. That is the basis of it. I have no idea what the Opposition is talking about.

Energy and Water Conservation

MS HORODNY: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr De Domenico. During the election campaign, the Liberal Party made a number of very positive promises relating to energy and water conservation. These promises included providing a rebate to residents who install rainwater tanks; ensuring that ACTEW monitors water use by the ACT and Federal governments to eliminate waste; expanding the use of grey water; and incorporating energy-efficient technology in all future buildings for the ACT Housing Trust and government departments. Can the Minister please outline how the Government intends to implement these Liberal Party election promises?

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