Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 December 2005) . . Page.. 4767 ..
That is disappointing and is certainly a recommendation that I could not support in good conscience.
It was telling that during the hearings we heard that all the people in ACTPLA who are on AWAs and who were all offered the opportunity to be removed from the AWAs declined the offer. Clearly those in ACTPLA on AWAs think it is not a bad idea to be on an AWA. They seem pretty happy with their conditions, whether that is their pay or whether that is other conditions associated with their work. It is a misguided recommendation, for those reasons.
I make the point that we are often hearing, particularly from Katy Gallagher, about the difficulty of competing with the commonwealth in the retention of public sector employees. The commonwealth uses AWAs for its public sector employees. Perhaps part of the reason that it is difficult for the ACT to compete is that the conditions that are offered to some of those employees are significantly better and are quite attractive, as evidenced by the response of those ACTPLA employees whom I mentioned.
I highlight a couple of things in some of the dissenting comments and recommendations. It is all covered in my dissenting report, and I will not go through all of that. It is important that the ACTION bus patronage figures be raised. What came out in the committee was that the expenditure by ACTION increased by about $8 million but, at the same time, patronage figures went down in the financial year. An area that we should be concerned about is the value for money we are getting from ACTION and the significant amount of money that is spent on ACTION buses.
The other issue I highlight is the significant increase in the LDA marketing budget. It has gone from about $300,000 to about $4 million, a significant increase. I raised a question about the cost of a sign for the EpiCentre development. The answer came back, significantly late. I had concerns about it coming back some four weeks after it was asked, when the ordinary practice in annual reports is for it to come back within five working days. That was disappointing. The expenditure on that sign points to some misguided priorities.
Who are you targeting with the EpiCentre development? You are looking at big developers who would come in and develop the site. I would have thought there were more direct ways of communicating with big developers, both locally and nationally, than a big sign on the corner of Canberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive. I make the point about the overdue answer. I am not quite sure what the reason was for that being significantly overdue compared to the usual practice with annual reports.
I conclude by once again thanking the secretary and my committee colleagues and saying that we worked together better this time. I look forward to that occurring more and more in the future.
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (5.02): I endorse Mr Gentleman’s comments on the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment’s report into the annual and financial reports for 2004-05. At first, I thought I would agree with Mr Seselja’s remarks. However, I must say that I was surprised to hear Mr Seselja’s remarks as I, along with Mr Gentleman—and, I thought, Mr Seselja—thought that at last we were working as one