Page 1849 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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already made its decisions for 2006 because they would be in the federal budget in May 2006.

The implication of that is that this is so important that the government does not want to influence the Commonwealth Grants Commission until it makes its report before the 2007 budget—28 months. That shows how important working families in the ACT are to the Labor Party. The earliest we could exert some influence on the grants commission adjustments would be the 2007 budget. So you have to question, firstly, why we are having the committee in the first place and, secondly, why this committee is going to take that long to report.

Select committees, traditionally, are established to look at urgent issues, important issues, and bring quick decisions to the Assembly. This one, I think, is just a joke by comparison. You have to ask yourself whether the only reason is to give somebody a committee chair’s fee for 16 months. People can decide in their own way as to how they feel about that, but I think that this is just a joke. This motion, as worded, is a slap in the face for working families in the ACT because it will be out of date by the time the committee publishes whatever it might publish.

The motion talks about examining the effects on working families of health costs. We know that the CPI figure for health costs is somewhere between seven and eight per cent. I can answer that one for the committee now. As to the effect of industrial relations changes, all the reports I have seen indicate that the industrial relations changes will free up another 50,000 job. I would have thought that that would make for more working families. We can probably answer that question now pretty quickly. As to adjustments by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, we will not know of any effects coming out of this select committee’s report for two years; it will be two years before we know whether we can use it to influence the commission.

Ms Gallagher: Not two years.

MR SMYTH: It will be two years. If it is to report in August 2006 and if you are going to use this document to influence the grants commission in the lead-up to the next federal budget, the next federal budget will not be until May 2007. It is a two-year sphere of influence that you are seeking to exert here. It is absolutely ridiculous that we should take that long. If this were really a serious issue to the Labor Party, they would have done this work by now. They have been in office for 3½ years. They could have started this work when Mr Gentleman was elected last November. They could have had a report for this year’s budget, if it was that important.

There is also the issue of whether work like this would have been done by a CSSE committee, had one been formed. Assurances were given to the Assembly that all the work of the previous CSSE committee would be picked up by the other committees. Given the clear lack or urgency, lack of commitment and lack of a case for it, surely this is just standard work for one of the committees. The Labor Party can tell us which committee it actually belongs to. As they abolished the CSSE committee, the committee that the previous Assembly had that looked at these issues, they can pick which one it really should be working under, but there has been no case made for the establishment of a select committee on this issue.

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