Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2319 ..
The hospital is a very different case and is of greater concern. Given that we know that Health goes up every year-I do not know of a single health budget that comes down-and given some of the growth quoted in Budget Paper 4 for the hospital, it is just inconceivable-
MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, wouldn't it be better to raise that under the part for the Department of Health and Community Care?
MR SMYTH: No, it is about the sustainability of the budget and the size of surpluses and deficits, Mr Speaker. You may hear me make similar sounds a little bit later in the evening, or maybe on Thursday, but if you look at the outyears, the percentage growth does not even match the Treasurer's own estimate of what the CPI would be. The Health index grows at a far greater rate than the CPI does. So, again, we have put forward some numbers that do not have any relevance to what is going to happen.
MR SPEAKER: The member's time has expired.
MR SMYTH: I wish to take my second 10 minutes, Mr Speaker. Simply from those figures, we need to have some worry about the nature of what is in these documents. Going to the numbers as well-ACTTAB, page 363, Budget Paper 4-there are several lines where the outyears columns are identical. There are numbers that do not change, and the answer was: "Well, that's what's going to happen."
You can imagine that with some of the lines that might well be the case but, when your total non-current liabilities remain exactly the same for four years, is it because of a wonderful, wonderful Treasurer, or are we just making guesses? I suspect it is guesses, because a number of reports were put in where it is clear that that is not going to happen. When the committee asked, we would get: "That's this or that or that,"and they would resort to sometimes incomprehensible answers. In terms of clearness and transparency, it is very important that we get those numbers correct.
I now have to say thank you to Mr Hargreaves. There are some recommendations concerning when an initiative is not an initiative and when ongoing programs should be identified. Mr Hargreaves dredged out of his memory that in previous times any new initiatives were identified as such and any ongoing programs were identified as such.
That could be a good way forward here, particularly when so many of the supposed initiatives-an initiative is something one does of one's own accord, not something that one is compelled to do or has to do-are just ongoing funding. RecLink got some funding, which pleases me, but it is not a new initiative. There should be clarity there.
Correction of errors was of interest to members. Where it becomes apparent that a number in the document is incorrect, it would be much better-certainly, for the Estimates Committee and, I think, for the Assembly at large-if these corrections were made as quickly as possible. When you get there on the day and you are handed a correction sheet at the estimates hearing, it is impossible to do your own analysis and digest what you have been given on the spot, particularly when it is about some of the key performance indicators of some of the departments.