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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4455 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

The ACT's environmental grants program, I am pleased to announce, will be aligned with the National Heritage Trust fund applications in the first half of next year to maximise the benefits available from the additional funding. To give you an idea of that additional funding, even if the ACT benefits only to the extent of a pro rata apportionment of the $1.1 billion available in spending here - and I think we actually stand to benefit rather more heavily than that because of our very good position on things like Landcare applications - this means an injection of funds into the ACT in the order of $22m. That is a trebling of our environment budget in a single year. That is an enormous benefit to the ACT, and we have an enormous amount to gain from this process. I hope that all members will put aside their petty political jealousies on this question, will cease to sulk on this question and will recognise the huge benefits to the ACT community. The continued commitment of the ACT Government through the ACT environment grants program, agency actions and other initiatives will combine with the increased Commonwealth funding from the partial sale of Telstra to ensure that this and future generations of Canberrans live in a sustainable and well-managed environment.

Public Service Redundancies

MR BERRY: Back to the ACT, my question is to the Chief Minister. In September you claimed that your budget was about jobs. Your commitment to jobs in the past is not encouraging. There are 5,600 fewer jobs and 2,700 more unemployed since Mrs Carnell came to office. There has been over 50 per cent youth unemployment for three months in a row. That is a pretty deplorable performance. Of course, 640 jobs were lost in your own Public Service in 1995-96. As well, your future commitment to jobs has been found to be wanting. Chief Minister, do you still maintain that this is a jobs budget? If you do, how can you explain the $1.3m of your redundancy pool which has already been spent?

MRS CARNELL: I am absolutely stunned. Those opposite spent something like $34m on public sector redundancies, including, I think, $17m in just one year. It is those opposite who voted against the skills centre and the apprentice training - 80 new jobs. Those opposite have just been negative the whole time. How can Mr Berry complain about $1.3m in redundancies, all voluntary redundancies, all for people who want to leave, when his Government spent something like $34m on redundancies, including $17m in one year? Mr Speaker, you can only say, "What a joke!".

This Government has always indicated that part of becoming significantly more efficient and being able to live within our means means restructuring within our public sector. We are not going to do things the same as we have always done them. As we have already done in the public sector areas - you can see it in our financial accounting and in many areas - we are looking at trendsetting for Australia in these areas. That means restructuring in some areas, and I believe that some voluntary redundancies are the appropriate way to go.

Mr Speaker, in the Government's 19 months or so in office employment has actually grown by some 600 jobs. Mr Berry just wants to whinge.

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