Page 2635 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 23 June 2009

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MR SESELJA: Temporary deficit. We are faced with seven years of deficits, but we actually do look for sensible savings. We are committed to finding sensible savings. It appears that we are the only party in this place committed to finding sensible savings. The government has been exposed for not doing that work; it is important that we put that on the record.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Women) (10.25): Just briefly on this item, the savings that the Leader of the Opposition refers to are the savings that were proposed in order to pay for their election commitments; they were not savings to deal with the impact of the global financial crisis on the territory’s budget.

Mr Seselja: Not true.

MS GALLAGHER: It is true, and they were presented in such a way. The savings were presented as a means of offsetting the expenditure commitments they made in the budget, which left them with relatively small surpluses—slightly larger than the surplus that we had forecast in the pre-election budget update. Mr Seselja, time has moved on, my friend, and we have seen dramatic reductions in our revenues—dramatic reductions in our revenues.

The savings proposal outlined by the Leader of the Opposition prior to the election, including an efficiency dividend on the Legislative Assembly in the order of $1 million over four years, was prior to any savings measures that they would have needed to take had they been elected to government. It is an important point that Mr Seselja keeps trying to hop around behind. He knows it is the truth, but he never accepts it.

Our efficiency dividend, which we have applied across government—I am not sure if the Liberals support that efficiency dividend; they have not made it clear whether they do support that efficiency dividend—has exempted the Legislative Assembly. I have written to the Speaker, asking the Speaker to consider the application of the efficiency dividend on the Legislative Assembly, but at this point in time we have not imposed one on the Legislative Assembly.

Let us just put the shadow treasurer’s comments into perspective. He wants more resources for the Assembly. The Leader of the Opposition wants to cut $1 million to pay for election commitments. Then we have this rather larger issue of the impact of our loss of revenue on our budget. Perhaps throughout the next 25 hours of this debate, the opposition may have a view on that. And maybe—just maybe—they will come up with a plan or a response to it other than blocking it.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.2—ACT Executive, $6,246,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $6,246,000.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.28): Mr Speaker, it is obviously critically important that we see adequate funding for the ACT executive,

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