Page 2633 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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The Stanhope government has made an enormous commitment to training to deal with skills shortages. We have seen significant growth in training in areas of skills shortages over the last year—in automotive and transport, 46 per cent; building and construction, 90 per cent; community services and health, 87 per cent; tourism and hospitality, 14 per cent. That is not to say that this will address the skills shortages we see in the territory but I do not think you can criticise the government for not addressing this area.

If I could just finish on the issue of the section 76 non-government schools education council. I accept the criticism from the Liberal opposition around the requirements of the act and how they were not met this year. I thought I explained myself in estimates. It was largely a timing issue. It was unfortunate that the establishment of that council was not done in time for the budget. It will not happen again. I can assure you that everyone on that non-government schools education council provided the government with a submission on the budget. The Independent Schools Association and the Catholic Education Office provided the government with a submission. So it was not that we did not get advice from them. I accept the criticism. As I said, it was a timing issue and it will not happen again. It was a problem with the implementation of that part of the act. But advice was given by the Catholic Education Office and the Independent Schools Association.

I thank members for their comments. I think this has been a positive year for education where a number of the commitments in the election were delivered on.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—total appropriated to departments, $1,732,880,000 (net cost of outputs), $466,568,000 (capital injection) and $379,644,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $2,579,092,000, agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.22—Treasurer’s advance, $25,700,000.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (10.35): I wish to make a few comments in relation to this item. One gains the impression with the Treasurer’s advance that near the end of the year it is seen by agencies as a pot of $25.7 million to be raided and departmental heads and ministers become very inventive when it comes to describing their additional expenditure proposals as unforeseen and urgent.

Regrettably, at the end of 2001-02, prior to my election to the Assembly, the Treasurer set a rather bad example when he spent what he saw as spare cash in the Treasurer’s advance by transferring $10 million to housing, even though documents obtained under FOI showed that there was no unforeseeable expenditure and no urgent need for the funds. At least the Treasurer subsequently conceded that he would never try that one again.

The emergency services commissioner, who has not, obviously, been able to operate within his budget and does not appear to be under the same restraints or pressure as others, has seen some spare cash in the Treasurer’s advance and has been able to acquire significant quantities of it. We have seen a number of presentations in recent weeks outlining his claims on the Treasurer’s advance as it applies to the year that is ending.

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