Page 500 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Gary Humphries is organising a roundtable to try and bring people together. I understand that he has invited Peter Garrett to come to try and avoid some of these cuts. I think it is reasonable that we actually take up these issues on behalf of the people of Canberra. Gary Humphries is actually doing that, yet there is silence from Kate. Kate Lundy may have referred to it as a stupid stunt. Unfortunately, that is often the level of Senator Kate Lundy’s contribution to these debates.
We do need to look at why these cuts are being made, particularly in relation to the NCA. They are far over and above any sort of reasonable efficiency savings. If they cut five positions out of the NCA, they could make an argument that this is about shaving some inefficiencies or maybe looking at some overlap. That would be reasonable. We could look at that and we could potentially support it if it was done in a targeted way. But we know that that is not what it is about. We know that the review is happening after the cuts are made. The government has announced that 33 jobs are to go in the NCA and then said that it will have a review to look at overlap and the various rights.
I was confused yesterday in the chamber when the Chief Minister was answering a question in relation to the airport. He seemed to be suggesting that he wanted the NCA to be having a greater role, that the NCA should have oversight of the airport. So, on the one hand this is all about avoiding unnecessary overlap and, on the other hand, when it comes to the airport he actually wants overlap; he wants the NCA to take a greater role. It is difficult to see, with 33 jobs cut from the NCA, where they will find the resources now to oversight the airport.
Minister Barr, the chief cheerleader for these cuts, has talked about ACT opportunities for NCA employees. That was the other positive spin that he had to put on it. He said that they are all going to come to work at ACTPLA now that they are getting the sack from the federal government. We know that most of the cuts coming in the NCA are not in the planning area. Most of them will be in the events areas. We know that we will be losing some of our significant events and we know that the contribution that the NCA makes to our community now will be limited.
We will lose some of these events and I think it is time for Jon Stanhope and the Labor Party in the ACT to get off the fence and say, “These cuts are bad. These cuts are vindictive. These cuts are a vendetta by Senator Kate Lundy.” Senator Lundy has had it in for the NCA for many, many years and is quite embittered now that she has been overlooked for the ministry. This will be the legacy of Senator Kate Lundy. We need to hear from local Labor whether they support Senator Kate Lundy. Do they support her comments that this is a bloated organisation? Do they support the gutting of the NCA, with all that that entails for the people of the ACT? Do they support these 33 Canberrans losing their jobs? Do they support Canberra losing some of its key events as a result of these cuts?
These cuts have not been well thought through. They are simply a political exercise. If you want an example of why this is a political exercise, there will be a lot of cuts but they will still be able to fund the ALP memorial in Queensland. It is not always about cost. This is about revenge, and Jon Stanhope and Andrew Barr in particular need to stop cheering these cuts. They need to start standing up to their federal Labour colleagues.