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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1562 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

I would like to make a couple of brief observations in regard to the use of voluntary redundancies. It is no secret that a large part of government spending goes towards wages, and therefore any genuine attempt to bring the budget into balance and keep it there would, to some extent, require efficient government departments which contain fewer staff. At this stage I wish to restate my opposition to forced redundancies and would add to that cautious support for voluntary redundancies where they are well placed. For example, I see little point in reducing the number of nurses in our hospitals or reducing the corporate knowledge of a department by prematurely removing the older, more experienced staff. I am yet to be convinced that the attempt by the Education Minister to discourage schoolteachers from staying in the classroom after they have reached the age of 45 - something that is a long way away for me yet - is little more than a cynical cost-cutting exercise.

There are several other aspects of the budget that I look forward to hearing explained during the estimates process. One of them is the budget response to the chronic shortage of public housing in my electorate. Many families are enduring waits of up to six years for a house, which is an appalling state of affairs. The Urban Services Minister assured the people of Brindabella two weeks ago that he was working on a solution but said that it would take time. Given that the budget looks forward to the year 2003, I trust that the Minister's plan to provide more public housing is in there somewhere.

I am also looking forward to more information being provided regarding the intended use of speed cameras. I wish to remind the Minister that for a variety of reasons I have not supported the use of speed cameras in the past and it is going to take some further discussion and convincing from him before I could be fully comfortable with their introduction. I believe Mr Hargreaves supported the introduction of red-light cameras. I think they are long overdue and I fully support them.

I am sure the Government has not been too disappointed with all the distractions this week. Since the budget was delivered on Tuesday afternoon, the focus of this place has mainly been on obtaining documents about Bruce Stadium, on the hospital implosion and on a pathetic spat between a couple of lawyers. I would encourage members not to get caught up in these side issues, important as they think they are, and to keep their focus on giving this budget proper scrutiny over the next few weeks.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (10.10): There are a couple of little issues that I thought would be worth raising. I expect to speak for only three or four minutes. Ms Tucker and Mr Berry ran the line that government schools have done very badly in this budget and in previous budgets. Since I began pushing the Labor Government many years ago, there has been no cut to school education.

Mr Berry suggests, as he did last year, that $4m has come off the education budget. When $4m is cut from any area, you feel pain. Pain was not felt across the school sector. Mr Berry, you have accused others of cheating, gold-digging and so forth. Granted, you withdrew those imputations. But on health, Mr Berry, both on the radio this morning and in here, you were simply wrong.

Mr Berry: No, I was right, several times, on the ABC. I heard it.

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