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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2847 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

A good example which covers both being lazy and being secretive is the fact that there are effectively no performance indicators for the new knowledge fund. This is a major new initiative supposedly designed to promote the ACT as a centre for technology and innovation. It is a way for the territory to be able to assert some continued supremacy in areas of research, and a research and development fund like this is in effect a key way of being able to deliver that promise. And, yet, curiously there are effectively no performance indicators in respect of this knowledge fund.

We do not know how well or how badly this scheme is supposed to operate because we do not know what it is to be tested against. We are told that the fund will be at least in part a fund that will make investments which are expected to be returned. The fund is to be replenished in some part and in some way by grants or contributions-or loans, I suppose-which are being made to individuals or companies based in the territory. But if the taxpayers of the territory cannot see how much of that is to occur because targets have not been set, how do we know whether it has been successful or not?

We can be certain that in the future the minister will rise in this place and talk about some particular instance of success because the odds are there will be at least a couple of those. They will have to fluke something. So something will succeed in this exercise. If you spray the money around, somewhere, somehow it is going to make a difference. So the minister will get up here and he will crow about that and say, "This is a great thing. Look at what we have done. Haven't we achieved something wonderful?" But if 30 per cent, 50 per cent, 80 per cent, whatever, of this money is not achieving those purposes then we can legitimately ask, "Is this money actually being well spent?"

The absence of performance indicators in this crucial area suggests to me that the government is either too lazy to work out what sort of performance a fund of this kind should achieve or it doesn't want to set itself targets because it knows this is a way of recording failure as well as recording success. If targets are set then the government will be chastised for those failures. Believe me, it is not nice to be chastised for your failures. You want to avoid that at all costs. But the cost that is being paid in this case to avoid doing that is the cost of accountability to this place. It is the cost of openness; it is the cost of transparency. If this is a new initiative, if it is designed to achieve important goals in the future of the territory's wellbeing and standard of living, then it should be measurable, and it is not measurable under these arrangements.

The economic white paper and the Office of Sustainability are further illustrations of a propensity on the government's part to be flaccid about the approach it takes to these important issues. The Office of Sustainability is supposedly an important measure in achieving the objectives of the government and not merely, as one might be tempted to suggest, a sop to Ms Tucker to get the government into office.

This is an important measure. It is designed to be able to overview the whole of government. But we don't yet know what sustainability is, and we don't yet know how it is meant to operate on a cross-government basis. There was confusion in the Estimates Committee about whether or not it would in fact educate the economic white paper. It turns out that it will because the Chief Minister's Department is responsible for the economic white paper and one small part of the department is the Office of Sustainability, and therefore it will have a role to play in that exercise. But where is the

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