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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 397 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, there are increased costs for the rest of the legal system. For example, the DPP requires additional resources of $0.3m annually.

In education and community services, the restructuring and improvement of Quamby will require $0.4m annually - again, something that the coroner has indicated. Members of this Assembly have been out there in the media saying, "You have got to fix Quamby, Government". Sure, but it comes at a cost. All of these are pressures on the $90m, Mr Speaker. When we talk about pressures, what you do is add them up and add them onto the $90m.

Mr Speaker, the Legislative Assembly, in letters from you, has identified that the Assembly will require $0.7m in 1999-2000 and $0.5m in the forward years. You just add it on. In information technology, the modernisation program has start-up costs of $30m and additional recurrent costs of $16m per annum. This is part of the Y2K approach and part of the fact that successive governments in the ACT - and, of course, before that, the Federal Government - simply allowed our information technology approach to run down. The community expects more. We need more from our IT. We have got to spend the money.

Mr Speaker, in superannuation, the expense increases by yet another $8m above forward estimates in the final forward year. This expense increases regularly, as we know, but there is another $8m above forwards. We just add it on. So, members opposite or other members of the Assembly may think that the $90m is easy, but they are just a few of the areas involved. None of them are policy directions from government, but just pressures that exist right now on that $90m. There are a large number of others, Mr Speaker; but that just puts it into context.

The underlying budget problem is very simple: Our expenses are higher than our revenue. If anybody believes that the answers are simple, then we are listening. Some members seem to have a different view as to what the underlying budget problem is, and I will certainly be very interested to hear their definitions. But, whichever way you choose to express it, the essential task is the same: Reduce costs or raise more revenue - or a bit of both. Mr Speaker, remember that reducing costs means reducing people.

It is not a simple matter of saying, "We will get more efficient. We will reduce the cost per patient in our hospital or the cost per student in our school system". Mr Speaker, that means staff reductions. This Government is not moving away from that. We understand that. We accept that those are the tough decisions that need to be taken. I will be interested to know whether other members of the Assembly are equally as gutsy. But, whichever way is adopted, I have to say, Mr Speaker, that you want to have a look at this. This Assembly has a responsibility. This Government, the Executive, will bring down the budget. But we are a minority government. The Assembly as a whole has the capacity to direct us, to change our budget, to knock the budget off, Mr Speaker.

Mr Berry: To knock the Government off.

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