Page 2638 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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you have already reached your target and you have not even started restructuring! The minister obviously has been taking lessons from Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty that a word means whatever you want it to mean.

It is no wonder jobs will have to go if the government has reduced the department’s funding to such a great extent, $10 million a year. Clearly, it will not have the funding to put into providing key services to the community; so, clearly, it will not need the workers to do the tasks.

I do not give credence to the minister’s claims that the government is simply streamlining operations to ensure more service provision at the front line and that to do that jobs have to go. The minister cannot even guarantee that Canberra Connect shopfront workers will not lose their jobs. What does that say for the level of service delivery we can expect from this government in the future? If the department is subject to cost savings and positions are being made redundant, there will be no provision for transferring that funding or those resources to the front line and the provision of services. Therefore, services will suffer as a result.

We have not seen any statements detailing the shifting of staff positions from administration and support to the front line of service delivery. We have asked for them and we have had no response. There has been no clear statement about how all of it is going to work and make the delivery of municipal services that much more effective. If anything, I fear that Canberrans could see an even further reduction in service under the latest budget round.

Let us look at capital works. The total for new capital works in 2005-06 is $31.7 million, down from the $37.922 million allocated to new capital works in the 2004-05 budget, a decrease of 17 per cent. It is also down on the 2003-04 budget, which allocated $34.6 million to new capital works. Clearly, the government’s commitment to upgrading urban infrastructure is waning, as the lowest amount of capital works funding in three years illustrates.

One area where this government’s commitment is lacking is with shopping centres. There are no new shopping centre upgrades in the 2005-06 budget, despite the concerns of the community about the state of many older, rundown suburban centres which this government has clearly ignored in favour of other projects, such as arboretums and the like. This government is not concerned about the look of our older suburban shopping centres, but it is concerned about providing ostentatious memorials to this Chief Minister’s reign that have the potential to be clearly viewed by satellite. Perhaps the arboretum will be designed in the shape of “Prince” Jon’s initials and enable him to be the first political leader to be identified from space.

The point is that key areas such as health, urban services, education and police are all suffering, yet the government continues to waste money on grand emperor-like projects in order to buy votes, buy popularity and pander to lobbies. The community is not imagining that the place is deteriorating. It has become a reality under the Stanhope government, a government that is not only soft on crime, but soft on presentation as well.

I will now run through a couple of other areas of major concern. I spoke last Thursday in the discussion of an MPI about how distressing it is to see our city looking in such a poor

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