Page 2339 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 28 June 2005

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Racing and Gaming) (12.09): It is typical of Brendan Smyth to read half of our response and then begrudgingly happen to mention 2004-05. That is just so typical of the way you put out information, Mr Smyth. The response pointed out that this government gave an increase in funding in last year’s budget of $300,000. In fact, to put this in perspective, the expenditure estimated in the 2003 budget for the year 2001-02 by the Auditor-General’s Office was $2.886 million.

The expenditure expected in this budget is $3.851 million. Over the period of four years we have seen a million dollar increase in the Auditor-General’s budget; we have seen it increase by something in the order of 25 per cent. In each budget round agency heads come to us and say, “I haven’t got enough resources” or, probably more accurately, “I could do so much more if you gave me more money”—as the Auditor-General has done.

I would submit to this place that the Auditor-General, over the period of the Stanhope government, has done quite well compared to other agencies. It is now funded by, effectively, a million dollars more than $2.8 million, which was in the last budget delivered by a Liberal government. They cannot stand here and say that this government is cramping the Auditor-General. From the words used by Mr Mulcahy and Mr Smyth you would think we had cut funding to the Auditor-General. The fact is that the office is now a million dollars better off than it was under that lot.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.4—Chief Minister, $64,088,000 (net cost of outputs), $32,822,000 (capital injection) and $5,842,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $102,752,000.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.12): A range of issues emerged in relation to this item in the budget. I am disappointed that the Chief Minister is not here to participate in these discussions. If he has time to address the dissenting report on radio and in the newspaper, I would have thought that the appropriate place, first, for him to be is in the Assembly, to deal with the areas that impact on the agency he oversees and on his performance as a minister.

A number of issues emerged. First of all we heard this radical idea of his—I acknowledge and accept that he has a rather different approach to economics from the Treasurer—that he is now thinking about going into buying real estate. The idea of buying offices and tying up critical funds by locking them into buildings is a novel one. It was once fashionable, but governments have moved away from that approach. It was something that troubled members of the committee.

Whilst he is saying they are only looking into the feasibility of it, it suggests that there is a sentiment to go down this road. I would counsel the Chief Minister—and I would hope the Treasurer is speaking to him about the dangers of the government buying buildings around the town—that A-grade buildings today eventually become B-grade buildings and often eventually become C-grade buildings. This is an area in which governments will be challenged in the future if substantial funds are tied up in this regard. His only defence was, “Well, we don’t have to do what the commonwealth says.” I accept that that is the case but I suggest that he look very carefully at the economics and

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