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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2386 ..

Detail Stage

Schedule - Part II

Debate resumed from 21 November 1995.

Chief Minister's Department

Proposed expenditure - Division 40 - Chief Minister's Department, $99,449,500

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (4.51): In addressing this particular aspect of the Schedule to the Appropriation Bill, I want to make a number of points. As members will be aware, the Chief Minister's Department now takes in a couple of other departments as well, including the former Treasury and the former Department of Public Administration; so there is a great deal of ground to be covered. At the start, Mr Speaker, I want to note the significant reduction in funding to this area of administration. If you look at a reasonable comparison, allowing for the change to the Administrative Arrangements, you will see that last year these areas of administration had a total budget of $114,000,402 and that this year the same functions have a budget of $99,449,500. There has been a significant reduction. Mr Speaker, I will say more on that point later.

I want to comment on the nature of this budget, which I think is a reasonable thing to do, given that it would have been framed by the Treasury, however they are now called. We have heard constant assertions that this is a three-year budget, Mr Speaker. Those assertions were thoroughly tested during the Estimates Committee process and found to be sadly wanting. We have heard the explanation offered by the Government as to how they arrived at their figurings for the three-year budget, and the fact of the matter is that the outyear figures are no more than the forward estimates in previous budgets, with just a little bit of fiddling at the edges. Mr Speaker, this is no more a three-year budget than any previous budget brought down in this Assembly.

Another problem with calling it a three-year budget is the fact that items which we know are going to have to be paid for in the coming years are simply not in this budget. There are items which we know the Government will have to find and which they have admitted they will have to find but for which they have made no budget provision whatsoever. Amongst those items is the mandatory reporting of child abuse. This is an issue that I believe is of great priority for the Government. I know that, had we remained in government, we would have been funding this year to the point where mandatory reporting could be implemented.

This aspect was examined very carefully by the Estimates Committee. Mr Speaker, the Estimates Committee had a very close look at this and quizzed the Minister very closely on it, and we were able to ascertain from the Minister that the cost of implementing mandatory reporting is expected to be a couple of million dollars. Of course, what

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