Page 1716 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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area of historical underresourcing, most recently highlighted by the Vardon report. The territory has not been alone in this, as most other jurisdictions have also faced similar problems and have also responded with considerable additional resources and structural reform.

Between 2002-03 and the end of this forward estimates period, additional funding of $154 million will have been allocated to child protection and family support. Taking account of the 2004-05 supplementary appropriation and this budget, an additional $10.6 million has been provided in 2005-06 alone.

Further, the tragic events of the January 2003 bushfire were unprecedented in their impact on the territory. Funding has been required for recovery, for future prevention and for strengthening of the emergency services capability, as identified in the McLeod report.

While we have been thankful for prudent insurance arrangements, and for assistance through the national natural disaster mitigation arrangements, the government has had to find substantial funding over and above these financial offsets, and in these times of global terrorism we have had to accept the need for enhanced disaster recovery capabilities. Between 2002-03 and the end of this forward estimates period, additional funding of $134 million will have been provided over and above insurance receipts and assistance from the natural disaster recovery arrangements.

Mr Speaker, it is generally recognised that health costs escalate by about 7 or 8 per cent each year. Each Australian state and territory has faced increased health costs due to rapid advances in medical science and the range and costs of emerging procedures and treatments. Each year, governments must fund a premium of some 5 per cent for health over and above normal cost indexation.

Prior to 2001, public sector pay rates had lagged to the point where they were near the lowest in the nation. It was unavoidable that this problem had to be redressed. It has been to the extent that rates are comparable with, but not above, those applying in other states and territories. Pressure still exists in some professions as different jurisdictions compete for qualified and skilled staff that are in short supply.

The budget also pursues efficiency and effectiveness within our administration. We expect productivity gains by way of a reduction in overhead costs and the reduction of duplication within that administration. Each year, the government expects a productivity premium. In addition, there will be a concerted effort to eliminate parallel processes, particularly in information technology and in procurement and contract management.

In 2005-06, general savings of $20.7 million will be made across all departments. This rises to $28.4 million in a full year. Further savings of $2 million, rising to $12 million by 2007-08, will be achieved across the public services in relation to a rationalisation of information technology and procurement and contract management services.

Mr Speaker, this budget continues to address the needs of our community. Unfortunately, as increased needs are identified, it does involve an increase in general rates in order to generate an additional $13.8 million per annum to partially meet emerging needs.

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