Page 1378 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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There seems to be a lack of control. I know the Treasurer appreciates the importance of making sure that you live within your means and that you have a bit of spare for the future, but it does seem that the other ministers simply wish to spend at the limit without any regard to the ability of the taxpayers ultimately to foot the bill. There do not appear to be any savings, or any attempt at savings, from this government in the control of its finances, nor does there seem to be any attempt at all, for instance in the EBA negotiations, to get something more in terms of productivity from the public service for the benefit of the taxpayers.

We always need to look at better ways of doing things, more efficient ways of doing things and more appropriate ways of doing things. Instead, we have had something like 500 extra public servants coming into the public service in the last year. That tells me, given that there has been no appreciable increase in service delivered, that this government, through its ministers, lacks control over its departments and indicates that if we are not careful—and I know I will get a rise out of the Treasurer on this—it will repeat Labor’s legacy of last time. The $344 million operating loss is something that should be thought of as being well and truly on the horizon. We have a report from the Auditor-General that says that there are problems, and what we have here is again just unfettered spending—spending for the sake of spending—and no apparent attempt to find savings or moneys inside departmental budgets to fund these promises. Instead, the government will simply spend the excess cash we have had from previous years.

When you are finally confronted, as we appear to be now, by a situation where the cash is going to level off, you then have the problem that you have made commitments that you probably cannot keep. We will continue to scrutinise the government in the way that it spends. The points made by my colleagues were all valid and we look forward particularly to May and the coming budget and all its outcomes.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (5.45), in reply: I thank the house for the support for the appropriation bill. This bill does, in fact, include some election commitments that were made post the previous budget, and it is very fortunate that we are not trying to fund the commitments that the opposition made in the lead-up to the election. I know that there are going to be some groans, but I have a copy of the shambles that was the Liberal Party’s costings before the last election. It is a disgrace and I trust, Mr Mulcahy, that you have a better grip on things than Mr Smyth had, because the costings and the amount of commitment were entirely indigestible and would have resulted in absolute chaos.

I do note that Mr Mulcahy started his speech with the normal far-right-wing approach of “Let’s indulge in business welfare and all will be good for everybody. If you look after the speculators and the investors, then everybody else will be okay”—somehow; I do not know how that actually works. This government does invest in business. This government has invested millions in business generation, but it has not invested money in business welfare and it does not intend to do so.

I do not quite get the point that Mr Stefaniak was making in relation to the Eastman case. I do not think there is much we can do about that. Even though it is very expensive and

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