Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1071 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
We have to point out that, while accrual accounting brings in a broader view of our financial situation, it does not have a broad enough view yet. It does not take into account the quality of life factor, the equity factor, the environment factor, the social factor, and the wellbeing factor. It is dangerous, indeed, if we focus mainly on the budget bottom line because, just as when we did not have accrual accounting we accumulated unseen financial liabilities, we are at present accumulating other unseen liabilities.
When we look at the diagram on page 5 of the Budget Overview we see three circles intersecting, and they intersect to form a clever, caring capital. In these three circles there is no mention of the environment. I must say I find this pretty scandalous in 1998. We still are able to ignore the environment; yet we hear from the major parties that we do not need Greens in parliaments because we already all know about the environment. The word "sustainable" is in one of the circles, but only to preface the word "economy", and sustainable economy is not the same as ecological sustainability. I have to remind members of this place again, it appears, that as human beings we are fundamentally reliant on our natural environment. We cannot see it as a tack-on, an extra source that we look at later when we have the financial bottom line in order.
We see in the circles that services are cost effective. There is no mention of quality. We notice the word "contributing" before "community". I wonder whether this refers to people in the community service sector that Mr Wood was just talking about being asked to contribute more, to continually work for low wages. Does this refer to all the workers who are asked to tighten their belts in tough economic times to contribute more? I am afraid it does not go down too well in the community to ask for a greater contribution from them when the people asking have just accepted a 16 per cent pay increase.
When you look at this budget it becomes clear that some people are being asked to contribute more than others. The big end of town are the winners in this budget. It is a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" budget. There is provision of only 1.3 per cent per annum for public sector pay increases when the CPI increase is forecast at 2.5 per cent. These wage increases, if they are given, will have to be funded from productivity gains. How can those productivity gains be found? Probably through job losses. The pressure on the public sector wage earners is going to be even greater because of the executive pay rises. With the new human resource strategic plans, will these same executives be rewarded for making agencies more productive - that is, reducing staff members?
There is extra money for tourism and events marketing - $6m. We cannot afford the SACS award, but we can afford money for tourism and business because it is an investment in the future; it is generating possible future benefit. Fine. I go along with that concept. But what you have to accept if you are going to use that as a premise for funding things is that it applies equally to the social and environmental areas. If you invest in our youth there are potential future benefits. If you invest in youth employment programs, of which there are a lot less in this budget, there are potential future benefits. If you invest in research and development to find new green technologies there is certainly a potential for future benefit.