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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2254 ..



We ask two questions: firstly, has the FMA been breached by making the payment before the funds were approved by this Assembly? Secondly, why are additional funds being sought when clearly they are not required, as can be seen by the fact that the wage increases have already been paid?


(11.01): I commend the government for concluding negotiations with the Australian Services Union and the clerical staff to finalise the ACT public service framework agreement. The agreement provides for pay increases and modernisation of conditions to keep public sector workers in the ACT in step with employees in other states and territories.

I also support the appropriation in this bill to implement the AIRC work value decision to confer a paramedic skills allowance. Like our nurses, our paramedics have long been undervalued for the high level of skill they require and use every day in their work. I hope this decision means that these essential workers are now being more fairly remunerated.

This appropriation also provides for the removal of burnt trees, landslip rectification, weed suppression, restoring grass on Duffy forest land, Murrumbidgee restoration and restoring trails-among other things which were all flagged shortly after the fires-and are reasonable expenses.

Concerns have already been raised today about money being spent before it is appropriated. I hope the Treasurer provides an answer to these questions. It is concerning to see this kind of process taking place. I hope there is a full explanation for it and that we do not see this kind of thing again, where there is a presumption of the outcome of an Assembly vote, or a decision of this Assembly is ignored before it even takes place.

I understand the Treasurer is going to circulate an amendment which increases the amount we are appropriating today. That is in relation to the National Information, Communication and Technology node here in Canberra-the centre of excellence. I will speak briefly to this now.

While the ACT's involvement in the National ICT centre of excellence is directed towards a noble end, it appears to be something that was not well planned. I understand there were millions of dollars spent in preparing the ACT's submission, as part of a group of submissions, to have a node of excellence here in the ACT.

It appears that there will be benefits for the people of the territory and for technology growth here in the territory because of this. However, considering that millions of dollars were spent in preparing the submission, it is concerning to see that we have already had two changes to the appropriation for the node of excellence-one through the Treasurer's Advance, and the other through this Appropriation Bill today.

The way this is being handled in relation to the movement of land; how that will be given to the centre of excellence; how it will be managed, and which block of land it is going to be, appears to have created a lot of confusion throughout the planning community, in relation to strategic planning and strategic use of land here in the territory.

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