Page 2637 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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Another issue raised was the delay with the Gungahlin Drive extension. Completion is now to cost an extra $16 million, but we will be still getting only one lane each way. A fundamental problem with this project is that, by the time it is finally finished, we will have a two-lane road that needs to be upgraded to four lanes. With a bit of foresight, the government could have come to that conclusion a long time ago, but failed to do so. The people of Gungahlin continue to wait in traffic and they will continue to do so for a long time. In fact, with one lane each way with the extension, as I think one official put it, it will be a great road for 22 hours a day and it will be a car park for the rest of the time. So we do look forward to duplication of the Gungahlin Drive extension starting at some time in the near future.

Standing order 76—suspension

Motion by (Mr Corbell) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That standing order 76 be suspended for the remainder of the sitting.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (10.50): Mr Speaker, the 2005-06 appropriation for urban services, $289.61 million, is not as large as it sounds as it needs to accommodate all of the ongoing projects, responsibilities and capital works that are undertaken across a range of agencies within the department. There are areas of funding in the budget for urban service that are indeed welcome. I am sure that the government will highlight these areas and I guess that we will analyse just where those programs intend to be going.

It is good to see that the government has continued with the programs that it has decided to fund in 2005-06. However, what I will do today in this speech is highlight those areas of concern to me and my colleagues that arise from examination of the urban services department’s appropriation for 2005-06. The fact is that this territory is spreading geographically and increasing its public infrastructure, which all needs proper, ongoing maintenance, yet the funding by this government has not risen in proportion to the growing community’s urban management needs and it does not appear to have risen with the CPI either.

More and more land is being released, which is good, but where will the money come from to guarantee the maintenance and upkeep of all of that? Given that the urban services department has to find an additional $10 million in savings in future years, there will have to be significant restructuring. That means that the 80 jobs forecast to be lost from the department could be simply the start in relation to future job losses in order that the department can ensure that it does save $10 million per year in the outyears. The urban services minister cannot seriously believe that funding cuts of this size will not impact on the front line operations of the department and workers in the field.

Mr Speaker, you will recall that in question time this week the minister said in relation to the restructuring of the department and the advertising of two new SES positions, “It is about rationalising. It is about taking 13 or so SES positions down to 4 or 5.” That is patently ridiculous. There is already a chief executive. That is one SES position. There will be two new divisions to replace Mr Hargreaves’s silos and each will have a director, which will take the number up to three SES officers. Finally, on Saturday, two SES positions were advertised, which will take the total to five. Congratulations, minister:

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