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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1432 ..


MS TUCKER (11.05): I move:

That the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio inquire into and report on the recommendations of the February 1997 report of the Chief Minister's Department entitled Implementation of service purchasing arrangements in the Australian Capital Territory with particular reference to:

(1) an evaluation of the progress on the implementation of the recommendations;

(2) the resourcing requirements of the non-government partners to the agreement; and

(3) any other related matter.

I have made this reference to Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee because of a number of incidents which have come up in this place, particularly in the estimates process, where we saw some very alarming examples of how the service purchasing arrangements are being implemented. The Pre-School Society was given virtually no notice at all that they would be required to have a different agreement with government for funds. There are different stories, totally contradictory stories in fact, from the Pre-School Society and the Government and bureaucrats concerned about how this process occurred. I am not really in a position to say here who I think is not being totally truthful on this matter, but let us just say that the confusion is worrying in itself and it is clearly the case that the Pre-School Society has not been supported adequately in coming to terms with the new arrangements, if in fact that is what they have to do.

The other significant example is how the Institute of the Arts has been treated and how they were told suddenly without notice that they had to describe their services according to government requirements and the output model. Unfortunately, I was not able to be here yesterday because my daughter was ill in hospital, but I am sure that the debate about the Institute of the Arts yesterday would have brought out the whole question of the length of time people are given to come to terms with this, whether or not it is appropriate at all to be using this model, how pricing of services is determined, how the contestability continuum is determined and where different services will fit on that continuum, if at all. That really important question of whether or not it is appropriate needs full discussion. Is it in fact appropriate to impose this output model of service and service purchasing and contestability? Is it appropriate at all for particular services?

The report that was put out by government on this matter attempted to address some of these concerns. The bottom line here is that, not just in the ACT but in all of Australia, in governments of both persuasions in fact, we are seeing what has become an obsession with financial accountability, to the point where I believe it is extremely dangerous and it is cutting at the very soul of our society.

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