Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 April 2005) . . Page.. 1373 ..
additional $48,000. For the cost of purchasing transport services, add $97,000—a bargain basement price! The cost of managing ACT Forests is an extra $73,000. Et cetera, et cetera! I could continue with listing the blowouts but I do not have time. However, I am sure my colleagues all have their own examples highlighting the government’s inability to budget properly. So I will refrain from adding to the list at this stage.
What I have shown in listing the preceding examples is the Stanhope government’s inability to budget for, and thus to manage, the ACT economy on a day-to-day basis. They are flying without any compass. It appears they are simply unable to appropriate or are unwilling to appropriate sufficient funds to cover these, which are, to a large extent, expected increases in cost for basic municipal and urban services.
However, what is even more disturbing is that the extra funding that has been appropriated has not entirely been targeted at the areas of the greatest need in the ACT. If the ACT economy is to suffer a budget deficit in the future, which it appears is where we are now heading big time, then additional appropriations, one would think, should really be targeted at the essential areas that have been significantly run down—areas that are crying out for additional funding and which have received little funding at all in the extra $75.3 million appropriated. This is entirely scandalous.
For example, one of the greatest areas of concern of the ACT community, along with health and housing, is the failure of this government to ensure that police numbers meet the national average. There appears to be no additional funding—not $1, from what I can see anyway—towards either boosting police numbers or ensuring that our police have sufficient resources to deal with day-to-day crime in this territory.
I will not hold my breath waiting for this government to allocate additional funding for this important area of need. Going on the government’s track record on funding of policing in the past, I will not be surprised if the upcoming 2005-06 budget does not allocate significant additional funding for extra police either. If it does, then that will be an extremely pleasant surprise, one which the community would certainly welcome. I would encourage the government to rethink their budget strategy on that fundamental issue, policing.
To conclude, Mr Speaker: it is clear from this excessive appropriation of $75.3 million, or $25.9 million if you take only the impact of the operating result over and above the original 2004-05 budget forecast, that this government cannot manage the territory’s finances. Not only that, but also this government cannot properly identify the fundamental needs and priorities of the ACT community and, indeed, lacks the courage to target the funding where priority needs exist, particularly if it is politically incorrect to do so.
I will be supporting Appropriation Bill 2004-05 (No 2) comforted only by the fact that my own and my colleagues’ concerns about the ACT government’s poor management of the ACT economy are now on the public record.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.27): Mr Speaker, as Mr Mulcahy has said, the opposition will be supporting the appropriation bill. But appropriation bills are important things and they cannot pass without some comment on some of the important measures