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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 411 ..



should be right now. The questions that the Chief Minister asks, as I pointed out before, are questions that we - sitting here as non-executive members, outside of the Government, with no access to the treasury, without regular updating on how the budget is going - simply cannot answer. It is not possible for us to make any constructive input to assist the Chief Minister in dealing with those things.

In terms of things that the Government should be doing to get expenditure down, I noted that the new Minister for Health is taking the conventional route of getting his budget down by saying to his managers, "Give me a proposal that will reduce your expenditures by 5 per cent across the board". I thought that that sort of blanket approach had been discredited 20 years ago. That sort of approach penalises the efficient organisations within the agency and rewards the inefficient ones because they still keep money over and above what they really need to do their job. Furthermore, you perpetuate organisational elements within the agency that are performing functions that the Government should not be performing.

If the Chief Minister and the Minister for Health are serious about getting down the expenditure side of their budget, I suggest that they do a comprehensive, detailed, cold, logical analysis of everything that the Government does across all of its agencies and make a determination about which ones are necessary, which ones are just nice to have and which ones maybe we do not need at all and, instead of 5 per cent budget cuts across the board, make the cuts where it is most appropriate. Do away with functions that we should not be performing at all. The Government has been pretty good at contracting a lot of stuff out, so they should be expert in that field. Have a close look at the ones that it would be nice to have and see whether you can really justify the expenditure and, if you cannot, discontinue it. Then focus your available resources on those core functions which are determined as being the ones that we really must perform.

That sort of program requires, first of all, that there be a detailed and comprehensive review, totally supported by management at the top. It requires a demonstration on the part of the Government and the senior management of the will to see the recommendations implemented. How many times have we seen major reviews where, 10 years later, you discover that half of the recommendations were not even implemented? It also requires that the Government and the top management insist on real-cost management at all levels, right down to the bottom, and reporting systems that identify to top management where people are not performing. Without all of that, you can go about all sorts of ways of addressing your expenditure and you will never achieve anything. It requires not just an off the top of the head decision; it requires a very logical and cold, unemotional approach.

In concluding, Mr Speaker, the Chief Minister, in listing all of the things that were going to put pressure on the $90m budget deficit next year, listed Corrective Services, ACTION, Urban Services, mowing grass - that is getting down to the grassroots level! - the ageing population and the like; but there were two major omissions from the things that the Chief Minister thought might put pressure on next year's budget, and they deal with what she has been up to for the last three or four days. One is a shooting gallery and the other is a heroin trial. How is it that the Chief Minister has been out there urging, at a summit level, that we take on a shooting gallery and a heroin trial if there is not

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