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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2795 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

When we talk about a budget of more than $2 billion, it is important that we get it right. It is also important that we make sure we get additional services for the money we spend and the services match the needs of the people of the ACT. This budget fails to do that.

Throughout the course of the day, as we discuss the budget line by line or part by part, we will come back in detail to look at the various aspects of the budget. But in a broad overview I think it is fair to say that this is a budget that lacks vision, a budget that lacks commitment and a budget that shows that the government is not capable of making hard decisions.

Part 1 is the Legislative Assembly Secretariat and the funding they receive for the job they do. With the amount of work that is done in committees and the support that the committees have to offer us in doing our jobs, I have always been concerned about whether we are funding them appropriately. Over the life of this Assembly we will watch to make sure that particularly the committee staff but also the other staff that support members in their activities are funded to do the job properly.

Part 2 is the ACT executive. There is a question about whether the amount of money appropriated provides for a fifth minister. One of my criticisms of the Chief Minister as part-time Health Minister is that we need to make sure there is an adequate number of ministers. When the ministry was put together, the indication was that a fifth minister would appear. Will that minister appear this year, and is there enough money in this budget to allow that to happen?

Part 3 looks at the Auditor-General. The Auditor-General's budget is prepared by the Auditor. It comes to the Public Accounts Committee. That committee looked at that budget and agreed that the request of the Auditor was fair and reasonable. Other members may have comments to offer on what the Auditor-General does and how he does it. Hopefully, this is enough funding for the Auditor to do his work adequately.

Part 4, the Chief Minister's Department, is an area which I believe clearly shows a lack of vision from this government, in particular in business. Businesses, particularly small businesses, are important as generators of revenue but particularly as generators of jobs.

We do not see any engagement by this government with the business community to continue the growth and the good work that have occurred over the last six or seven years. Growth in business is important to our future. Unless we are growing the private sector-unless the government is going to fund growth entirely through the public sector, which is unlikely-where will jobs come from in the future and will they be sustainable? It is that base that we need to get right. Through the Estimates Committee and this budget, I do not see an understanding of, or support for, the business community by this government.

Part 5 goes to ACT WorkCover. WorkCover appeared before the Estimates Committee. I believe there are probably adequate funds in this budget to allow WorkCover to do its important work, something which I know you are intensely interested in, Mr Speaker. There is yet to be a clarification of the role of ACT WorkCover and the commissioner as the guardian, the watchdog, the enforcer and the educator as well as the policy developer.

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