Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2110 ..
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure—part 1.4—Chief Minister’s Department—$50,148,000 (net costs of outputs), $15,544,000 (capital injection), totalling $65,692,000
MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (5.23): The first thing to say is that we see a significant amount of money has been provided to expand the work of the major projects and facilitation unit in CMD. This provides funding of $1.875 million in the first year, rising to over $2 million in the final outyear.
The measure description says that this funding will help streamline the processes for project approval—that is, more bureaucrats are being funded in order to help remove red tape. For all the money provided, the measure description says nothing about improving the public consultation or considering the impact of development on public amenities. This is the area which covers the Tuggeranong power station issue. Of course, we have seen how well that has been handled. We certainly would hope that, in future, the people of the territory would actually see better outcomes for the money expended, rather than the situation which occurred in relation to the power station where clearly the wrong site was chosen, despite the very close involvement of the Chief Minister’s Department and the major projects and facilitation unit in relation to that development.
There are a number of spending items that are noticeably front-end loaded with either declining or disappearing funding in the outyears. Some examples from budget paper 3, pages 64 to 65, include accountability in government, building and maintaining public service capacity, responding to skill shortages, demographic research and strengthening the community. You do have to wonder how serious the government is when we see one-off funding in an election year and a tapering down of commitment after the election year is over. We, of course, have seen that in other portfolios, as was highlighted in budget week, with extra maintenance for shopping centres being done only in an election year. There is $2 million in an election year but nothing after that. Apparently the maintenance will not be needed after the election, but the government is going to make sure that they are all spruced up before the election.
Depreciation of funding for capital items in the Chief Minister’s Department is very interesting. Depreciation funding in this portfolio has been provided at a rate of 10 per cent across all capital measures, regardless of whether they involve funding for equipment or for building construction or refurbishment. Let us compare this to funding for other agencies. In the health portfolio, the depreciation provision varies considerably for new measures. For some measures it is around the five per cent mark, and only for equipment is there a higher rate of 10 per cent. In the education portfolio, there is a strict two per cent rate for buildings, musical instruments get five per cent and fibre optic cabling receives 10 per cent. That is quite a difference to the 10 per cent provision in CMD across all items. It seems that there is one rule for CMD and one for everyone else.
One item in the CMD budget particularly caught my eye. I asked a question on notice as to why 10 per cent depreciation funding had been provided for design work relating