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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2462 ..

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, as well, I would like to hear Mr De Domenico explain how any civilised community could consider an overall cut of 15 per cent over the next three years in its library services, especially when loans rose by 1.5 per cent last year, and people coming through the door to use other services rose by 3 per cent in the last three years. Can you give us a guarantee? That is all I want to hear. But, given the recent guarantees that I have received, I do not know whether I should ask. I withdraw that, Mr Speaker.

Mr Moore: No; get another one.

MR OSBORNE: No; I withdraw. I am not going to ask for a guarantee.

Mr Moore: An assurance.

MR OSBORNE: I want an assurance from you that the services that the libraries provide will remain.

MS TUCKER (10.42): We have been repeatedly assured by the Minister for Urban Services that the public will not see a reduction of the level of service as a result of budget cuts within this portfolio. An interesting point, particularly for those people who have been making use of the Ainslie Transfer Station, is that the station closed well before the completion of the Government's waste management strategy. It is difficult to see sense in developing a strategy which may suggest a range of options while at the same time you are reducing your options. It seems that the Government is putting the cart before the horse.

Of course, it is not only in the area of waste management where this appears to be happening. It is a recurring theme throughout the Urban Services program, a theme that goes like this: "Move to the purchaser provider model and contract out as much as possible". There is no apparent concern for the social and environmental impact, only a short-sighted view for quick fix solutions to the budget; not a long-term view to maintaining the standard of service which the community wants, nor a commitment to meeting other important social goals that should be the responsibility of the Government.

The clearest example of this is transport policy, where, for each of the next three years, the Government is intending to spend $600,000. One of the major tasks is to identify the community service obligations of ACTION. Mr De Domenico has already admitted that he cannot guarantee that services will not be cut. How can he justify a reduction in the level of service when he has no real picture of the cost of a reduced level of services, a picture that may be complete only after his Government has spent $1.8m? Efficiency in service delivery is one thing, and it is an important goal, but it should not be the only goal of governments. Jobs should also be an important goal, and not only jobs for the most skilled and efficient in our community. If private operators are contracted to deliver most government services, the government then loses control over who can be employed, and this includes the ability to employ disadvantaged groups.

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