Page 2628 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 23 June 2009

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Estimates 2009-2010—Select Committee

Report—government response

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Women) (10.02): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the following paper:

Estimates 2009-2010—Select Committee—report presented—Appropriation Bill 2009-2010—government response, dated June 2009.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

I present the government’s response to the report of the Select Committee on Estimates 2009-2010. I thank the committee and its support staff for its report on the Appropriation Bill 2009-2010. The report, spanning three volumes, has been prepared in a short time frame, and the government appreciates the effort that has been made by the committee and its secretariat. I would also like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank Mr Tony Harris for his efforts, time and work put into providing an independent, informed and insightful analysis of the territory’s 2009-10 budget.

Mr Speaker, concerning the report by the Select Committee on Estimates and its consideration of the budget, the committee has canvassed a wide range of issues, the outcome of which has been the presentation of some 130 recommendations to the government. The government has responded to each of these recommendations. Given the number of recommendations and the lack of supporting information or rationale for some recommendations at least—and I will talk about this further shortly—the government would have preferred more time to prepare their response. However, we considered it important that its response is provided to the Assembly before the budget debate commences.

I will not take the Assembly’s time now by working through each of the estimates committee’s 130 recommendations. The recommendations are separately discussed in the response document, which I have tabled here today. However, I would like to highlight, Mr Speaker, that although 130 recommendations is a significant number, and they certainly cover a wide spectrum of issues, there is limited focus, if at all, on the budget as a whole, on the strategic budget and fiscal issues facing the territory following the sharpest and most synchronised decline in the economies around the world.

Prospects for the ACT economy—and this is following the global financial crisis—draw three sentences from the committee. There is a recommendation to substantiate revenues and another asking the government to demonstrate appropriate responsibility and make the necessary fiscal policy decisions with respect to savings revenue and associated matters. The report does not even appear to recognise that the government has presented a strategy to return the budget to surplus. The government has

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