Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 741 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

The second point is on the overall costs of running ACT Forests. I think we all know that the major cost for any government agency is wages. I found the third point most interesting, and I will read it. It says:

In recent years, the commercial forestry operations have been subsidising the cost of conducting ACT Forests' community service obligations, such as providing recreation facilities and fire suppression resources, therefore the need for restructuring of ACT Forests as a consequence of a combination of past management decisions, higher recurrent costs and underfunding of community service obligations.

I have a question. Who is going to take up these community service obligations once these workers are gone and how much will that cost? Obviously, there is going to be a cost to government for that.

Further on there is talk about how much money will be saved, and there is a figure of $1.3 million. It says that ACT Forests will save about $1.3 million from its wages bill by reducing its work force by 20. It is estimated that about $600,000 of that will be needed to spend on contract work, so you will really save only $700,000. I would like to know how much money is going to be spent in other government departments on community service obligations and why there is not a figure for that in here. Perhaps we will see that the savings are not quite as high as the government is making out.

I have heard some of the interviews and listened to some of the workers who are faced with a bleak future and I, like Mr Berry, feel for them. This motion is just about placing an obligation on the government to find them a job. I am sure that Mr Smyth will stand up in a little while and say that we are already offering voluntary redundancies. Question 23 starts out well until you get to the last line, where it says that, if redeployment actions are unsuccessful, at the end of the staff members' retention period they will be retired.

Mr Berry: That sounds a bit different from what Gary was saying.

MR OSBORNE: Yes. I think that there have been some untruths said in response to Mr Berry's motion today. This motion is not about forcing the government to keep these workers within ACT Forests. It is just about ensuring that people who have given service to the territory are looked after and found a job, and I will be supporting it. I understand that Mr Smyth has an amendment that he has not circulated yet. I must admit to being a little suspicious about it, but I look forward to listening to what he has to say.

MR QUINLAN (11:22): I will be fairly brief. Mr Kaine recognised that the world is changing and we have to agree that the world of employment has changed. Much of that change has been driven by economic rationalism in recent times and the simple economics that you cost one option versus another and choose the least cost or the most profitable option. But these tend to be the economics of the enterprise ownership, and it may well be that if all costs were factored into the equation there would be a different answer. If all costs are being factored in and taken into account, they must include the human cost or the cost to the individuals involved. This is a government enterprise and, remember, governments are primarily responsible for people.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .