Page 1368 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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All we have got so far is confusion. On the one hand, we are being told that more has to be paid and the Assembly is being asked to approve of those decisions that were made. Then, in the midst of this, we hear that the public sector in Canberra has grown by 5.1 per cent, a record increase in numbers in recent years. Then, two minutes later, we pick up the paper and we see that the Treasurer is now saying that ACT public servants have been put on notice that job cuts are being considered by the government as it strives to keep the May budget in the black. What kind of message does that send to the public sector, about which the government purports to be so concerned? It sends a message of confused management, of division within the government and obviously an uncertainty about the prudence of their earlier decision to give away the farm.

Time is escaping and there is limited time to address other aspects of this appropriation bill. We did look at Manuka Oval as part of the hearings. All I would say in relation to that is that before we rush to spend monies at Phillip Oval, we need to understand the benefit that the local community is presently enjoying from Manuka Oval. Moving sporting activities to Phillip will not necessarily deliver the local benefit where there is an absence of retail businesses close by.

We looked at stress and injury of health workers and particularly issues within the hospital. I know that some have said, “Well, it is only 11 nurses who have got stress claims.” That is 11 too many and it is something that we ought to be concerned about. Then, of course, we saw the $7.7 million on the coronial inquest into the bushfires, a figure that is rising every day. The opposition supports the bill.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.06): I would like to say one or two words while the Speaker is on his way to join us. I would like to say thanks very much for the Treasurer’s management skills of the territory’s finances.

The Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services was able to receive $4.189 million in additional funding, including a quarter of a million dollars to provide transitional alternative accommodation and support arrangements for two at-risk clients; 200,000 bucks for housing and support services for temporary visa holders; $100,000 to match commonwealth funding and provide additional respite services; a quarter of a million dollars to conduct a feasibility study; $1.3 million for costs associated with the clerical enterprise bargaining agreements. This government, in fact, is providing pay rises for public servants, not denying them. It is providing $2 million for the ACT concession program.

Mr Speaker, the supplementary appropriation addresses some urgent drought-related activities, increased water rates and also further, within the Department of Urban Services, nearly $3 million for, again, wage negotiations. The Emergency Services Authority has received some money also for the enterprise bargaining agreement.

If it had not been for the prudent management of the territory’s finances, none of these drought and bushfire response amounts would have been possible.

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