Page 2671 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 23 June 2009
We do need to understand that in this context that the government has announced—and it is central to the budget that has been delivered—we will be seeking from agencies, including the Department of Health, a one per cent reduction in expenditure; we will be seeking from the Department of Education a one per cent reduction in expenditure; we will be seeking from the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services a one per cent reduction in expenditure. There are only two agencies that we have excluded from the request for a reduction in expenditure, the Auditor-General and the Legislative Assembly.
I have to say that, for myself and the government, in an environment where we are asking agencies to potentially identify reductions in services, involving perhaps mental health or disabilities or homelessness, I find it interesting that there are large sections of this Assembly that would ask us, in an environment where we are potentially asking for a reduction in expenditure on homelessness or mental health, to increase funding for the Auditor-General.
But we take the recommendation of the estimates committee seriously. So we will have a serious look at the suggestion that we increase funding to the Auditor-General. To do that seriously and objectively, we surely need to look at the adequacy of that level of funding. And what do we do in doing that? We benchmark it. We do it in relation to all of our expenditure; we look at some benchmarks. We look at the benchmarks provided to us, for instance, in the annual report on government services and we find, as we look at some of the blunt indicators that we look at, namely, interjurisdictional comparisons, we have, on a per capita and pro rata basis, the most heavily resourced auditor-general’s office in Australia.
It is appropriate in that circumstance, in our assessment of this recommendation, that we actually look at some external capacity to assess the basis of the recommendation and the attitude we should take to whether or not we adopt it.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary question?
MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, why do you continue to attack independent individuals such as the Coroner and the Auditor-General instead of responding to the substantive issues which they raise?
MR STANHOPE: Well, the question is based on a false premise, Mr Speaker. As much as I wish to respond fully to questions from members, it is simply impossible for any minister to answer a question that is based on a false statement or premise.
MR SMYTH: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, in an analysis of various aspects of the 2009-2010 ACT budget, the economic adviser to the estimates committee, Tony Harris, said:
There are grounds for criticising taxes on property transactions. In at least some cases they prevent economic activity.