Page 3472 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005
Everybody would like more money. I get a request a week, if not a day, for more money from across the board. Questions that you ask every day in this place go to, “Why don’t you spend more money on this or that?” Of course, these are the hard decisions of government. There is a need to prioritise the provision of services. Always remember that we did not take a cent off the courts through the last budget round, but we took five per cent off corrective services.
The Chief Magistrate and the magistrates and the Chief Justice, along with others, bid regularly, through our formal processes, for additional funds for different projects and to meet their genuine and obvious costs. Every other organisation and agency with the ACT government does the same. At the end of the day, Mr Stefaniak, as a minister in a former ACT government, you know that tough, uncompromising decisions need to be made when resources are limited. In this case, corrective services has responded to a direction to reduce its expenditure by five per cent.
Mr Stefaniak: It’s moved them to another building.
MR STANHOPE: Yes. It has done that to save costs. Corrective services has met the request made of it to find five per cent. It is an across-the-board cut. It is a brutal business, but for the sake of good government and the government’s commitment to the bottom line and our determination to take the hard decisions when good government demands it of us, we have made those expenditure decisions, and we stand by them. There will be some pain along the way. I find it ironic that an organisation that was not asked to suffer any of the pain is criticising decisions taken by organisations that did.
MR STEFANIAK: I ask a supplementary question. Attorney, how much has this move reduced the efficiency of corrective services court liaison staff?
MR STANHOPE: It has certainly had an impact. I do not think it is quantifiable. I do not think I can measure the effect or the impact. To the extent that you can equate efficiency with a loss of productivity or, say, a cost, this is a question you could ask me in respect of every ACT agency that has been required to make cuts. You cannot always do that.
One of the very positive aspects of demands that governments make from time for efficiency is precisely that, that the process and the operations become more efficient. It is not just a question of a five per cent cut equating to a five per cent reduction in service. At the end of the day that is not necessarily what we seek to achieve. We talk about an efficiency dividend. It is about seeking more and better with the same or less. So I am not prepared to concede at all that there has been any reduction in efficiency of operations. It is just a new and different way of providing the same service. It is a new and different way that has not met with the immediate applause of the Chief Magistrate, but that is not to suggest that the system is any less efficient.
MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope. Could the Chief Minister advise the Assembly about progress on the project to transfer water from the