Page 3565 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 25 August 2009

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dealing with some of the issues that it faces in relation to its budget and, in a determination to be efficient, to continue to provide the services the people of the ACT seek—have a right to demand and, indeed, receive.

One of the outstanding aspects of the Ernst and Young strategic assessment of the operations of the Department of Territory and Municipal Services was essentially a finding that the officers of Territory and Municipal Services, most particularly officers within the Parks, Conservation and Lands area, were so determined to meet the needs of the people of Canberra that they were inclined to put service delivery above some of their budget responsibilities. At one level, what a wonderful criticism to have made of your public service—of that area of government that is fundamental to the delivery of services to the community.

This group of public servants—we know what the opposition think of public servants—were determined to meet the needs of constituents, were determined to respond positively to requests from the people of Canberra in relation to those issues that are of fundamental importance to quality of life: issues around our suburban amenity, issues around the nature and quality of our parks, issues around roads, footpaths, bicycle paths, keeping our municipal facilities like toilets clean and maintaining our parks and urban areas to the very high standard that is evident throughout the ACT. That was the fundamental or the underlying finding of Ernst & Young.

Having said that, certainly Ernst & Young did identify a number of significant improvements to be made in relation to financial management—lines of communication, lines of responsibility and issues in relation to delegations and a propensity, particularly at levels within the department where there perhaps should not have been a delegation or approval of expenditures, for those expenditures to be approved in an environment where the portfolio’s overarching responsibility to bring its budget back in within budget has not been achieved.

The chief executive takes it seriously; so do I. It is a sign of the maturity and the commitment by the department to its own management that the department commissioned the strategic review. It is a warts and all analysis by Ernst & Young and it has produced a warts and all report. But we are working hard. I am working hard with the department.

Indeed, as I have indicated in recent weeks on a number of occasions in the environment that we are in, the financial environment that we are in, I have asked Territory and Municipal Services to convene a number of community forums and a broad-ranging community consultation. We will be having the first of these forums within the next four weeks. We will cover, through the forums, every aspect of Territory and Municipal Services’ administration. We will be talking with the community about the level of service delivery, the cost of service delivery and the sorts of decisions that the department might make that would achieve community support in relation to the level of service—perhaps the reduction of service in some areas, perhaps the non-provision of service at all in relation to some of the functions and some areas of land that are administered by the department.

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