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We now have a budget which is a bold budget. It is a very bold budget because it has the courage to say that this is what we are going to do not just this year but for three years. The difference between this Government and the one that we have just seen the last of after 4½ years is that this Government will be managing its budget. It is not going to wait until the end of the year, as the former Government did, and then say, “Gee whiz, we had a blow-out. Gee whiz, we did not start $33m worth of capital works”. I will guarantee that the Chief Minister - - -
Mr Connolly: The Chief Minister will resign if she does not deliver the budget.
MR KAINE: Listen to what I am going to say, and bear it deeply in mind. I will guarantee that at different times during the year the Chief Minister is going to have her agency heads come into her office and she is going to say to them, “How are you managing against your budget?”. The first time one of them says, “I am $30m overexpended”, I think that guy or that woman had better start looking for another job. Not only will the Chief Minister be looking for blow-outs in the budget, but she will be looking to see whether expenditure programs are actually being achieved. She will be saying to the agencies, “You asked for $30m for your capital works program. Are you spending it? If not, why not?”.
That is the sort of management that people should have been exercising over the budget for the last 4½ years, instead of letting it run riot, letting it go berserk. Apart from the political decisions that were behind the series of budgets that led to the dire economic and financial straits we are in now, had it not been for a total lack of understanding of the economy and finance they could not possibly have taken the decisions that they did to put us in this big black hole. Totally apart from the political ineptitude that put those budgets in place, there was no management of them after they were in place.
It is obvious. You have only to read the figures. You have only to read the outcomes from year to year to know that no management of the budget was being exercised. Nobody knew whether a department or an agency was meeting its commitments, whether it was spending its money on the things for which the money was appropriated, whether it was even spending it at all or whether it was overexpending. The only one that we know for sure overexpended was the health organisation. They have done it so consistently that Mr Connolly had to check every week to find out how they were going. He knew that it was a dead certainty that they were overexpending. Having got, by about the third or fourth month in the fiscal year, the information that they were already beginning to overexpend, what did he do about it? Nothing. He just let them continue to overexpend. By the end of the year the budget had totally blown out.
Mr Speaker, there are a couple of major differences between the budget that this Government has brought down and the ones that the Labor Government has brought down over the years. This is a responsible budget. The Government knows where it is going. It has confronted the problems that we should have been confronting for the last five years to get our economic and financial affairs in order. The budget will be managed to make sure that the outcomes are those that were designed into the system in the first place. That is the difference between a responsible Liberal government and a totally irresponsible and incompetent Labor government.