Page 393 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Then there are the Treasurer’s comments about the apparent commitment to increase accountability and transparency. This takes the form of increased funding for the ACT and for the Assembly. Apparently it is proposed that these funds will be used by the executive—that is, by ministers—for increased staff or to give existing staff more pay. There could be the same response in the offices of both the Leader of the Opposition and the Greens. I find it difficult to see how you can put these promises into this bill and call them “increased accountability and transparency”. Why do we not simply call them what they are: additional staff allocations for members of the Assembly? Indeed, there might not be any enhancement of these objects at all. We will certainly use this to seek increased accountability and transparency, but I am not sure that the government will.

Then there is the response to the global financial crisis. This is minuscule at best: there is $500,000 in new capital for the arboretum, $1.3 million brought forward for cycling infrastructure, $881,000 for regional community hubs, $450,000 for the Mitchell customer service centre and $1.6 million for business improvement in the Department of Education and Training. There is money for tourism, and we get to that later. It totals around $4.7 million in stimulation to the economy, supposedly.

But let us look more closely at the $1.6 million for business improvement. It is in the Department of Education and Training and it is for the consolidation of administration and support staff within the Department of Education and Training. It is to reduce the number of sites that the department will use. Some stimulation package! As a stimulation package, it is more of damp squib. I think it is a stunt with little substance.

If we consider the overall package, the overall budget impact of this bill, based on the pre-election updates the surplus in 2008-09 will be reduced to $50 million or thereabouts. The surplus in 2009-10 will be about $10 million, the surplus in 2010-11 will be only about $11 million and the surplus in 2011-12 will be only about $13 million. Clearly, the prospects for the ACT budget surpluses are weakening and can only be described as paper thin. This appropriation bill does little to improve those prospects.

So let us go into some of the detail of the bill. A number of the items of proposed spending in this bill are quite reasonable. We have no quarrel with those items that will provide relief in the community and we have said that. My colleagues will consider a number of these in more detail in the detail stage, but I would like to mention just one or two items briefly. The first is the Beijing Olympic torch relay. From these documents we now understand that the cost of this event blew out from an estimated $1 million to an estimated almost $2 million. We know that the Stanhope-Gallagher government expected the commonwealth government to pay for half of this. Indeed, we were told the government—the commonwealth government—had agreed to fund half of the anticipated cost of staging the relay.

Members interjecting—

MR SMYTH: We know that, yes. This is the Labor Prime Minister. We know that before the election the Chief Minister was pursuing these funds from the commonwealth government, but we now know that the ACT taxpayer is in fact going to pay more for the event—an additional $438,000, to be precise.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .