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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2453 ..

MR WHITECROSS (continuing):

by accounting fiddles and by other pieces of mismanagement which I will get to in a minute. More than many of the other appropriations we are discussing tonight, Mr Speaker, the Urban Services appropriation encapsulates the philosophical direction of this Government, which is away from service provision and towards user pays, ratcheting up fees and charges left, right and centre, and towards arbitrary decisions driven by the ideology of the conservative Right that Mr De Domenico brought with him from Victoria.

Perhaps a classic example of the kind of decision that underlies this appropriation is the decision about the funding of the Library Service. It is classic for two reasons. The first is that the appropriation for the funding of the Library Service entails a substantial cut to a basic service which is provided for all the community. We have heard much discussion of what things might be cut from the Library Service. I have had representations from all over the place about it. I have had representations from advocates on behalf of people who are blind or hearing impaired about what is going to happen to their services and to the people who organise the lending for them. They need more assistance with lending than they are going to get from an automatic book checkout system that Mr De Domenico has boasted about. I have had people complaining to me about cuts in things like story time, which introduces young children to the joy of using books and to the value that books can have in their lives. I have had concerns expressed about the dramatic reduction in the number of new books that can be purchased. Library documents indicate that they propose to spend $750,000 - - - (Quorum formed)

MR SPEAKER: I remind members that, if the hourglass runs out and a quorum is not present, we will not be continuing with this sitting.

MR WHITECROSS: Well said, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, there are a range of concerns about the Library Service. I was just alluding to the substantial reduction in new book purchases that will result from spending only $750,000. That is the amount highlighted in library documents as being the amount available for new book purchases.

Mr Berry: What about the Kippax library?

MR WHITECROSS: There is a whole lot of other things. One of the amazing things about this is not just the dramatic slash in services. It is that this Government and this Minister can actually propose a cut of 15 per cent in the library budget, a cut of over $1m. The Estimates Committee asked, "How are you going to make those savings?".

Mr De Domenico: It is not $1m. It is $150,000.

MR WHITECROSS: In the library budget?

Mr De Domenico: Yes.

MR WHITECROSS: You are kidding yourself. It is $1.1m. I suggest that you consult your own documents on that. When this Government is asked, "How are you going to achieve these savings that you have decided to make in the library budget? What services are you going to cut?", they say, "Oh, we do not know. We will let the managers manage. It is their job to decide those things. It is not a matter that we, the Government,

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