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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (16 April) . . Page.. 918 ..

MRS CARNELL: For some stop-work meetings that have been approved, people have been paid. For those that have not been approved, they have not been.

Information Technology - Government Expenditure

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I have a question without notice to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, there are over 800 companies in the information technology field in the ACT; so, it is a very significant sector of the ACT economy. Many of those companies are small businesses, in terms of the numbers of people that they employ. My question is: What will be the impact on the ACT's information technology industry, given that the Howard Government has said that it intends to slash $1 billion - $1,000m - from the Federal Government's expenditure on information technology?

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I do not think that it is really within my purview to comment on Commonwealth Government policies in this area; but I am very happy to speak about the ACT Government's policies.

Ms Follett: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In her answer to the previous question, Mrs Carnell made reference to the Federal Minister for Industrial Relations and, in her complete non-answer to the question before that, she quoted extensively from the former Federal Prime Minister. So, do not give me that excuse.

MR SPEAKER: Nevertheless, quoting on matters of that nature is allowable; but you cannot ask the Chief Minister to comment on Federal matters.

Ms Follett: I am not, Mr Speaker. Would you like me to restate my question?

MR SPEAKER: Would you mind restating it.

Ms Follett: The second part of my question, Mr Speaker, was: What will be the impact on the information technology industry in the ACT of the Federal Government's plan to slash $1 billion from its government expenditure on information technology? The point is, Mr Speaker, that most of the information technology businesses in the ACT rely for their work on government business. Everybody knows that. Surely, our Treasurer has had some analysis done of the impact. I would like to know what it is.

MRS CARNELL: I will do my best, Mr Speaker, to answer what is very much a hypothetical question. Mr Speaker, to my knowledge, this question is pure speculation. I certainly do not have the information, and I understand that nobody has the information, on whether and where those cuts will occur. I think one of the things, though, that we have to do in Canberra and one of the things that we have already addressed with the new Prime Minister is to ensure that, as they go down the path that they are going down - and that is to contract out more services to the private sector, which is something that we would also support - the treatment of ACT suppliers, our small businesses, is on a totally level playing field compared with the treatment of businesses in other places.

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