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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2416 ..



on behalf of the territory-which is, as we all know, a very important differentiation, which we are all on top of-one amount was shifted in the line items but not in the totals. It does not affect the bottom line at all; it just affects the part.


(12.38 am): I must apologise. I did have a speech prepared for this morning, but I was in a briefing with Minister Gallagher, so I am going to give a very brief speech. Mr Speaker, as part of the process of the Assembly I have had an opportunity to scrutinise the government's budget through the Estimates Committee and have my input into the report of that committee-a valuable process for me.

Now, after the committee process, I feel there are many areas in which this budget has major failings. Unfortunately, there are many missed opportunities, where the people of Canberra could have better outcomes and should expect better outcomes from the spending of their money. There are other areas, where the government has funded programs that are innovative and progressive. There are also areas where the government has continued very positive programs developed in previous years, even by the previous government. For those areas the government deserves praise.

While following the theme of empire building throughout the estimates process, I found that there has been a steady and substantial increase in the senior executive service over the past two years. In fact, the increase is in the order of 17 per cent. I am now left wondering what the increase has been in the overall size of the public service. My main concern with such a large increase in the senior administrative areas of our public service is that there does not appear to be a commensurate increase in output in terms of services for the people of Canberra. Had more money been spent-more senior public servants employed-that resulted in better community outcomes, we would all be in a position to rejoice and say, "Money well spent!"

Spending more money is always easy, and it worries me that so many members of this government seem to think that achievement can be measured in terms of how much money is spent. Spending money to achieve outcomes is one of the main roles of the government, and one of the main roles of this Assembly is to see that it is spent well. It should be of great concern to this Assembly, in approving this government's budget, that so much money is being spent but so little money is being spent well.

Even with the concern about the poor spending of money by this government, my philosophical stance on budgets is that, when governments are elected by the people and appointed by the Assembly, they must take executive responsibility. They are beholden to the people of Canberra to fulfil the promises they made during the election campaign and to complete the work of government, which is ongoing- whoever is in control.

Let's not forget that this government went to the election promising to be open and accountable. To do this, governments need to have money. They need to have their budgets appropriated so they can get on with the job that they have been elected to do. Having accepted the role of executive government, the governing party should be judged on its ability to manage the territory's finances.

At appropriation time, this Assembly puts its trust in the government to prepare its budget to tell us in detail how money will be spent for the next year and to allocate

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