Page 2380 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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have said publicly many times before, I have no opposition in principle to recycled drinking water, so long as it is safe and that the costs are reasonable. However, I think the government should be a bit more forthright on this issue, and I think they should have the courage to come out and say what is obviously going on.

I notice that one of the priorities stated in the budget is for Actew to continue to contribute to the ACT community by supporting organisations, events and initiatives. I have spoken on this topic a few times, because I have my reservations about the practice of government agencies, including government-owned corporations, expending money outside of their areas of responsibility. Indeed, I think this was cited in an Auditor-General’s report as an issue of some concern.

It seems to me that this kind of practice can create a problem of accounting transparency in that payments made by some government agencies or corporations to some kind of community activity or service do not appear in the relevant portfolios that deal with that area. This makes it very difficult to get a complete idea of government contributions to community groups, events or initiatives, because they are all over the place.

There is also a considerable question as to whether Actew is the best-placed government body to be making decisions about supporting organisations, events and initiatives. I would have thought that this would fall more within the domain of Tourism ACT or the Chief Minister’s Department. This can lead to sub-optimal decisions or even situations where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Whilst it may seem very nice and fuzzy for Actew Corporation to contribute to community events or initiatives, if we wish to run an efficient and effective government, we need to ask ourselves why the corporation is undertaking this function when other government agencies already undertake this function as part of their core areas of operation.

I have mentioned this subject quite a few times since coming to the Assembly, and I believe that it is an important matter, notwithstanding the fact that it may be small amounts of money in the big scheme of things. If we want an efficient government, we need to improve these kinds of practices to make sure that public money is being spent optimally.

Finally, let me just put on the record that the new chief executive of Actew is, I believe, an outstanding appointment. I think that his previous experience at a commonwealth level left him with a very strong reputation, and I look forward to seeing his leadership in the organisation as its managing director from 1 July, from memory.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—part 1.22—Cultural Facilities Corporation—$7,105,000 (net cost of outputs), $1,164,000 (capital injection), totalling $8,269,000—agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—part 1.23—ACT Gambling and Racing Commission—$4,230,000 (net cost of outputs), $1,875,000 (capital injection), totalling $6,105,000—agreed to.

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