Page 2391 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 28 June 2005

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I am glad that that was finally brought to light during the estimates process. No matter what Mr Hargreaves goes on about, about no-one loosing their job and all this sort of stuff, we know that there are 240 redundancies; we know that there may well be a lot more jobs lost in the public service; and it is a result of this government’s mismanagement over the past few years.

I would like, though, to commend the Treasurer, Mr Quinlan, on his behaviour during the estimates process. I have got to say it was my feeling and that of my colleague Mr Mulcahy that Mr Quinlan behaved by far the best out of all his colleagues. We had Mr Hargreaves just rambling about all sorts of things, never answering questions. We had Mr Stanhope doing the same, disregarding the chair, slandering people under parliamentary privilege and refusing to acknowledge Ms MacDonald when she was trying to shut him down. We had Mr Corbell playing dumb whenever he did not like a question. “I am not quite sure I know what you mean.” That was the standard answer from Mr Corbell when there was a tricky question. Ms Gallagher was dismissive of breaches of the law and blasé in relation to her statutory obligations.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Treasurer for his performance. He played a fairly straight bat. He even told us a joke in one of the adjournments, which got a bit of a laugh. Do not say that I never say anything nice about you, Mr Quinlan. You were the best of a pretty bad lot.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.26): In this brief speech I want to address some of the policy issues of the Treasury part of the budget and the hearing where the Treasurer appeared. In the estimates committee hearings, the Treasurer was asked to explain claims in the budget speech that housing affordability has been improving since last year. In his reply, the Treasurer acknowledged that the indicators on which these claims were based relate only to the affordability of purchasing housing and not the affordability of renting housing. I think this is an important issue. The term “affordable housing” should be consistently applied and its meaning should encompass the full spectrum of the housing market.

There are many people who are not in a position to purchase a home, even at the more affordable end of the market. They, too, need access to affordable housing and it is time for this government to respond to those needs. The lack of investment in affordable housing is a major gap in this budget and it is important that the Treasurer’s comments are put into context.

I also want to address the cost of inquiry responses. I also take issue with the Treasurer over the figures cited as funding that has been expended in response to three major inquiry reports—the Gallop inquiry into disability services, the Vardon inquiry into child protection and the McLeod report in response to the bushfires. It is my belief that the government has been very loose in the way that it calculates the costs of these responses.

For example, within the $75.7 million purported for disability services in response to the Gallop report, an estimates committee breakdown shows that this includes spending on therapy services and transport assistance that are not relevant to recommendations made in the Gallop report. Likewise, a substantial amount of money attributed to responding to the Vardon inquiry is funding that has been spent on very expensive office fit-out and business support. That was not necessarily the intent of the inquiry recommendations.

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