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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2267 ..



which made much of having a committee on the status of women but which has done nothing about its report. You could pretty much say that that is not a bad indication of the way this government reacts generally across-the-board.

The highlights of the Chief Minister's Department in the budget papers concentrated largely on the bushfire and bushfire recovery, as was appropriate. There is very little in this budget to encourage business and there is absolutely nothing that I can see that talks about women or, indeed, multicultural affairs; so there is the dilemma. It is awkward and it is hard to address all of those areas, but, the government having made commitments in the lead-up to the election and having not kept some of them, it certainly is the part of the Estimates Committee and then the opposition to bring those matters to the attention of the government.

One thing that particularly amused the opposition was the initiative entitled "enhanced whole-of-government communication"on page 145 of BP 3. I think it is important, just as a case, to speak briefly about it. It is important because of what it says about the politicisation of the public service. We all saw in, I think, Saturday's Canberra Times the little article from the Labor hierarchy berating the government for not removing all the apparent Carnell apparatchiks who are still inhabiting the upper echelons of the ACT public service.

We all make lots of comments about not politicising the public service and I think that, in the main, they are made in a genuine sense, but it worries me that halfway through the life of this government there is a realisation that perhaps their message is not getting out, probably because they do not have a message, and they are going to employ enhanced whole-of-government communications experts at a value of about $1 million over the next four years.

It is interesting that when we asked the Chief Minister what they would do and how many there would be, the appropriate sorts of questions, he simply did not know. He gave us a delightful speech about the great strength of any democracy being measured by the level of connection between people and government. It is up to the ministers to go out and sell their message. Put out your press releases, have your cheese and bickie community events and do whatever you want, but do not politicise the public service by putting your spin doctors in place.

There are, I think, 19.4 media officers in the public service already. We know that there are also a number of contractors, possibly four, maybe even more. For instance, JACS recently put on a communications manager and I believe that there is a new one in the health department. Some of these positions are on contract.

At this stage, I move amendment No 2 circulated in my name [see schedule 2 at page 2425].

I have moved the amendment because we do not believe that it is appropriate to be funding spin doctors in departments, particularly when there is no clear idea of the need and what that will do. The case was put that the January bushfires highlighted the point that we did not have the media capability that we needed. I am not sure whether that is true or not, but hopefully events such as the January bushfires will be such a rare occurrence that you will not need that capacity in the near future. Indeed,

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