Page 2635 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (10.41): For the benefit of members, I will try to limit my comments on the arboretum as much as possible.

Mr Quinlan: Why don’t you call it the magic pudding and be done with?

MR SESELJA: I could call it the big tree park, if you like. Mr Speaker, in addressing the budget with regard to the Department of Urban Services, it seems that the recurring theme of increased rates, taxes and charges and the recurring theme of job losses might best be seen here. This portfolio seems to be a particular example of the inability of the government to find the savings it claims will be made in this financial year.

It is interesting to see the response of the minister for this area when he is questioned on staff losses. He throws the accusations left and right and he blusters and bluffs, as we have seen. To paraphrase Shakespeare, methinks he doth protest too much. Whenever someone asks Mr Hargreaves a question about where he will find these savings, he returns to the old form, the bluff and bluster, and often he wants an apology from all and sundry.

He wants Mr Pratt to apologise to people who fear that they might lose their jobs. It is his government that has identified 80 jobs that will have to go from DUS. He confirmed that on Tuesday and he clarified it again in question time. I do commend Mr Hargreaves for being honest about it. We found it very difficult in the estimates process to get from various ministers an answer on the number of jobs that were going to be lost but, to Mr Corbell’s and Mr Hargreaves’s credit, they did come out with one, although Mr Hargreaves has seemed to want to backtrack from it and exactly what it means since then. But the loss of 80 jobs, make no mistake, is a result of this government’s economic mismanagement. Those people are suffering the direct consequences of a government that has not been able to manage its budget and they are paying with their jobs.

Mr Hargreaves can protest all he likes about Mr Pratt being a scary bad man and say that every time he raises something he is scaring the people, but Mr Hargreaves is the one who is sacking them. He is the one who is going to get rid of 80 staff. That is the truth and the people who are going to lose their jobs need to know that it is a result of his and his government’s mismanagement of the territory’s finances. The government expanded the public service and now people are losing their jobs because it cannot sustain the situation. No doubt, we will see that continue in coming years.

It seems to me that perhaps Mr Hargreaves is uncomfortable with the fact that he has to reduce his department so drastically. He does seem to be uncomfortable about taking on some of his factional opponents in cabinet and in the party room on this issue, particularly as he is now responsible for the loss of jobs of former staff of Totalcare whom the Chief Minister had promised would all be looked after. In his first year of responsibility for the ministry he has to take the axe to the department.

Perhaps, in providing unsolicited advice to Mr Gentleman on his political education, as we saw in the paper, Mr Hargreaves is upset that Mr Gentleman went to learn from one of his more experienced colleagues, Mr Berry. He might have wanted to pass on the lessons he had learned as some sort of Yoda-like character. But Mr Gentleman, wisely or

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