Page 1973 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 6 May 2009

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Mr Smyth: You were wrong.

MS GALLAGHER: I do not have the exact number, but it was in the millions. It was an absolute decimation of the major projects unit.

Mr Smyth: So you are making unfounded claims.

MS GALLAGHER: I think it is clear that the difference here is—

Mr Seselja: Is what you said right or wrong?

MS GALLAGHER: that we have not gone to agencies and said, “These are the areas that we want cut”—

Mr Seselja: No, because you do not know.

MS GALLAGHER: “because we are ideologically opposed to them.” We have said, “Agency heads, you are in charge of your business.”

Mr Hanson: It’s too hard.

MS GALLAGHER: “You come and tell us in a very thoughtful process over a year”—

Mr Hanson: “You do it. We’re just the government.”

Mr Coe: Don’t leave it to the ministers, no. Don’t leave it to them.

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Speaker, it is quite difficult to answer the opposition’s questions if they just continue to shout me down. They did this throughout the budget yesterday, which was, I think, unprecedented—unprecedented interjections throughout the budget—and they are doing it now.

Mr Speaker, the view that we have taken—and I know it is one that the Liberals have pooh-poohed; it is one that the Liberals have rejected—is that we are taking time to work with agencies. We are giving agencies a year to come up with reasonable savings measures.

If we were to produce an arbitrary job cut field, which we do not believe needs to be imposed for a one per cent efficiency dividend—we believe these savings can be found through a mixture of natural staff attrition—there may be some voluntary redundancies, as there are every year in every government of all colours and persuasions—and areas within government where we think savings can be found. We are going to work that through with our agencies. I will keep this and update it on progress on that throughout the next financial year.

I have to say that we look forward to the Liberal Party’s submission on how they think the savings measures can be achieved. In fact, we wait with anticipation for your response to the budget tomorrow.

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