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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1195 ..

MRS CARNELL: I have some good points from you in the Canberra Times. Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that wholesale cuts in the public sector have a direct and immediate impact on the private sector. In fact, we have seen that in the unemployment statistics in the ACT over the last couple of months. Even at a time when there have not actually been any public sector cuts, just the insecurity caused by the potential of public sector cuts will do that to the private sector. I think that goes without saying. Mr De Domenico just said definitely that he did not make any comments that cuts in the public sector would have no effect on long-term unemployment or employment generally in the ACT. I do not quite know how you answer a question about a statement that my deputy says quite categorically he did not make.

Mr Speaker, the important issue here is that the ACT Government, I believe, has taken the appropriate approach to staff management. Under the previous Government, if you remember, Ms Follett had something like $17m available for redundancies. How much did we have this year? We had $12m. The reality is that the amount of money available for voluntary redundancies - neither Ms Follett nor I have used involuntary redundancies; nor will I - is less. The fact is that we have put less money aside for redundancies than the previous Government did. I think that really sums up the whole issue here, Mr Speaker. It is interesting that those opposite use the Canberra Times for quoting "absolute truth" when it suits them. If they want to get into that business, boy, do we have a deal for them.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Mrs Carnell clearly says that a downturn would affect the economy as a whole. She clearly says that the private sector would fall over if there were cuts in bureaucrats. Mr Speaker, the supplementary question I put to the Chief Minister is this: Will you stand by your Deputy Chief Minister on his comments and his flaunting of his ignorance, or will you do something about it? If you are not prepared to follow either of those lines, will you announce your unswerving endorsement for this incompetent Minister here today on this floor - unswerving endorsement for his comments?

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, do not sway.

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I promise not to sway. I will stand really still. Mr Speaker, I endorse all of my Ministers, in fact all of my colleagues on this side of the house, without any doubt whatsoever. I think the comment that I made, Mr Speaker - and I stand by it - is that wholesale cuts in the Public Service in Canberra will have an immediate and inevitable effect on the private sector. The fact in this city is that, although we have 52 per cent of people employed in the private sector, a lot of those people are employed in jobs which are directly related to the public sector. There is a great need to ensure that the Federal Government does not target Canberra unfairly.

Mr Berry: Two thousand, three hundred people have lost their jobs.

MRS CARNELL: I am interested that Mr Berry is doing exactly what you suggested to him earlier, Mr Speaker, was not a good idea. He is stimulating debate. Mr Berry would be aware, as we are, that unemployment has gone up. But, even with the problems that occur with a Federal election and all of the other things that have happened, we still have 1,500 more jobs in this city than we had when we took over government.

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