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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 April 2008) . . Page.. 1210 ..

ACT public service—recruitment

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. In your budget speech in June 2006 for the 2006-07 budget, you said:

Collectively, the measures announced today will result in a reduction in the size of the ACT Public Service in 2006-07 of about 500.

On a number of occasions around that budget you said that the size of the ACT public sector was unsustainable. However, you said yesterday that the ACT government will commence a recruitment campaign in the coming weeks aimed at attracting the commonwealth workers potentially affected by commonwealth budget cuts to the ACT public service. Chief Minister, why are you now proposing to recruit potentially hundreds of former federal public servants to the ACT public service in 2008 when in 2006 you claimed that the size of the public sector was unsustainable?

MR STANHOPE: I welcome the opportunity to respond in order to draw attention again to the significant efficiencies that have been driven by the ACT government through its management of the budget and the economy in recent years.

Mr Smyth interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: I warn you, Mr Smyth.

MR STANHOPE: The size of the ACT public service two years ago was too large; it was unsustainable. It had grown at a rate that could not be sustained, and we have reduced the ACT public service considerably over the last two years, because of the strength of our economy and the fact that we have factored into the budget and into the estimates efficiencies in the order of $100 million a year—a very hard task. I can use as a shining example of those efficiencies the shared services centre. I notice, Mrs Dunne, that you and your colleagues have gone enormously quiet on the shared services centre and on the capacity of the shared services centre to drive significant and continuing efficiencies. I am interested that you have not asked a question on the shared services centre over the last year, now that it is a success, now that it comes in on budget every year, now that it is achieving the $20 million-plus a year in reduced expenditure in relation to some of our human resources and IT needs—and that is just the shared services centre, driving efficiencies of over $20 million a year, year on year.

In our budget, in our forward estimates, there is, I am told, just in excess of $100 million of efficiencies driven out of the budget of two years ago, which we have maintained and which have actually reduced the size of our public service considerably. We find now, though, as a result of our success in managing the economy, and because of the strength of the ACT economy and the implications of that, that our unemployment is at 2.3 per cent. The significant supply issues in relation to labour force are impacting on us as well. We have reduced the ACT public service considerably but we still, despite the reductions, have a significant number of vacancies. We have 2.3 per cent unemployment, the lowest unemployment ever produced by a jurisdiction in Australia’s labour force statistics history. It is a wonderful achievement.

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