Page 2087 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008

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conversation. I am also pleased that ex-members are being granted lifelong library access. I am sure that I will be grateful for this as I research my book on Canberra’s planning, past and future.

Finally, I believe that our reception room and exhibition room are two great services that we provide to Canberra. I fought the increase in rates during my term, as community organisations are not able to afford their hire too often and members’ DOAs are only so big. The increased charges have reduced the number of meetings that I am able to host, and that is a loss to the community in general.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (3.58): Some important issues have arisen with regard to the Secretariat this year and some new issues have arisen due to changes in the structure of the Secretariat and the transfer of some of its functions.

I think Dr Foskey touched on the Shared Services Centre when I was listening upstairs. I note that some of the financial functions of the Secretariat have been transferred to the Shared Services Centre in part because of the loss of key financial staff from the Secretariat to the commonwealth. The Clerk commented on this issue in estimates committee hearings on 23 May 2008 and expressed the view that the transfer of these functions to the Shared Services Centre would not save them money but would be attractive from a risk management perspective because it would make the Secretariat more robust to losses of key staff. He was of course unable to say whether the transfer of functions would cost money, though he expected that this would become clearer in August and September after the end of the current financial year.

The accounting treatment of this change is interesting. The government continues to appropriate money to the Secretariat for these financial functions and the Secretariat then purchases these functions from the Shared Services Centre, which presents an invoice for the work. Apparently this reflects the fact that the services being provided are still functions which are for the Secretariat. The idea is that this means that no new appropriation is needed for the Shared Services Centre, which simply receives the money by transfer payment from money appropriated to the Secretariat.

What is interesting about this is that the budget this year adds more than $10 million in new expenditure for the Shared Services Centre. This is required to establish new operational teams and new staffing positions in the centre and attract new recruits. On the basis of continuing increases in appropriations to the Shared Services Centre, we see that there is very good reason to expect that the savings predicted by the government will be greatly diminished and that this transfer of functions may in fact cost more money. The questionable saving from the transfer of functions to the Shared Services Centre and the prospect that it may even result in higher costs are an ominous and familiar warning. This has been the experience of many other jurisdictions in Australia that have established shared service centres in the hope of reaping huge efficiencies.

It will be interesting to hear more on this matter when the dust has settled from the current financial year and the Secretariat is able to analyse the net effect on its costs. Whilst it might be a relatively tiny portion of the entire ACT budget, it will provide us with a front-row example of how this works. I take the point made by the Clerk that

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