Page 1602 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 31 March 2009

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affairs budget of Actew Corporation, that is money they cannot spend elsewhere. When they see the massive growth in the major projects and facilitation unit in the outyears they say, “No, we have to have every piece of that spending. We need to hold onto that”. That is the $938,000 extra in 2008-09, the $1.9 million in 2009-10, the $1.97 million in 2010-11 and the $2.019 million in 2011-12. This is over and above the original amount.

This is part of the growth to which we said no, we would not see the growth in that part of the bureaucracy and we would therefore be able to spend the money in other areas. This is the fundamental reason why Katy Gallagher, as Treasurer, says, “We need to hold onto this.” We know they need to hold onto it because they have said that all of these cuts they do not agree with. All of the cuts that were put forward by the opposition, according to them, are going to result in job losses. The Treasury figures do not have any space for redundancies; so we know they did not agree with that conclusion.

But we see what else Ms Gallagher, as Treasurer, has committed to keeping so that she cannot spend it in other areas and she cannot give it in tax relief. There is to be reduced marketing in the Chief Minister’s Department, $600,000 over three years; a reduction in consultancies across government by five percent, which would save $4.5 million in 2009-10, $4.6 million in 2010-11 and $4.7 million in 2011-12.

These are significant dollars, and these are significant dollars in savings that were found through looking at some of the low-hanging fruit and looking at some of the areas where this government does not wisely spend money. We said there are areas where we cannot spend this money and we can devote it partially to some tax relief and we can devote it to other areas of spending which we see as more important—putting it into smaller class sizes, for instance, as one as the important priorities of government; putting it into infrastructure and the building of roads, as another example.

We see this Treasurer and this government addicted to this spending, to the extent that they will criticise any attempt to find savings. Mr Smyth and Mr Doszpot have laid out part of the alternatives that have been put in terms of ideas to stimulate the economy.

We have also put forward things such as Infrastructure Canberra, which would assist the government with actually getting the job done. It is difficult to measure, but we do know that delays in infrastructure and the inability of this government to deliver on its infrastructure program cost jobs, cost economic activity and eventually eat into revenue for the ACT government. Infrastructure Canberra was a way of dealing with that. It was widely welcomed by industry because, for a small amount of money, for a small expenditure over a few years, we were making the structural changes that are needed in order to see this infrastructure delivered.

Likewise with the changes to the planning system that we proposed, many of which, it seems, the planning minister likes so much now that he is starting to adopt them—and it is flattering him having adopted our lower-class sizes policy as well—he sees the merit in our planning policy. But fundamentally this is about seeing the resources shifted to where they are needed. This is about structural and cultural change within ACTPLA, which everyone in the industry acknowledges is needed.

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