Page 1909 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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matter in the fundamental question of measuring police capability—a position that he constantly rattles—he decided to teach us the lesson that the AFP, which umbrellas ACT Policing, is a broad organisation. He taught me that this great AFP parent body was 7,000 strong. The total AFP figure, from which we draw ACT Policing, is about 4,900 employees in total. Thanks for the lesson, minister. How can Mr Hargreaves have any idea about ACT Policing capability? How can he even know whether 40 new police in the budget will be sufficient if he has no clue about the true numbers? He demonstrates that he does not give a damn about numbers, let alone the actual effective numbers, of sworn police.

I am disappointed overall that this government, despite the Treasurer’s previous admissions that they knew it would be a tight budget, have not kept themselves to funding crucial areas of need and have instead clearly given preference to a whole lot of non-essential projects. This is not to say those non-essential areas should not be funded, but when times are tough, those things can wait a little bit longer. It is the fundamental areas of community need that should be given priority when times are tough. As I have illustrated, this government is not serious about policing the streets. They are not serious about protecting the community. They are not serious about bringing on line as quickly as possible fundamental emergency services capabilities. They are not serious about hospitals, schools and making sure that we adequately maintain the urban environment.

There is no doubt that this is a tight budget and, despite the fact that they have had to go $90 million into the red, the Stanhope government have disappointingly let down the majority of Canberrans with their continued frivolous expenditure on ideological projects. If the government had not spent so much money in the last few years since taking office in the pursuit of its ideological goals, the ACT would not see itself in the dire financial position it is in now.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (5.14): Sadly, this budget hits people in the hip pocket and offers little in real terms to address acute need in our community. Let us look at housing, for example. At a glance, the 2005-06 budget, particularly with reference to new initiatives and not ongoing appropriated funding or non-appropriated own-sourced revenue from within the portfolio areas, does not commit any significant new funds to vital services within the housing sector.

In order to deliver on demands made by the Treasurer for achieving cost savings in each portfolio area, there were in the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services a number of instances of obvious underspending, as outlined in the output components of the budget papers for the 2004-05 financial year. This, in turn, has provided a little something extra to slip into the forward targeting of funds for the 2005-06 fiscal cycle for implying in the budget announcements that there is additional funding for operations for the coming year, yet these funds that were siphoned off should have been effectively expended in 2004-05—the year for which they were allocated.

Taking property management in housing as an example, the government revised its 2004-05 estimated outcome of $84,361,000 to $81,160,000 and passed that off as a cost saving due to revision of the remaining economic lives of multiunit properties, yet until March 2005 only $37,945,000 had been expended on property maintenance. Therefore, it follows that Housing ACT, in order to meet its target, will have to spend now a whopping $43,215,000 in the last quarter of the 2004-05 financial year.

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