Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 25 August 2009) . . Page.. 3570 ..
expense of the budget bottom line, to seek to accede to requests of the community and perhaps an inclination to seek to accede to representations from a minister in relation again to community representations or representations by others.
I see it as a healthy sign of engagement by ministers in the administration of their portfolio responsibilities, just as I see the underlying determination by officers within Territory and Municipal Services to seek, to the greatest extent possible, to accede to and meet requests by the community for issues to be addressed as a very healthy attitude. It is a fantastic attitude. It is a fantastic attitude to have and to be revealed in an independent report—that the overarching culture is one of a determination to do everything possible to meet the requests or the representations, in the first instance, of the community and, secondly, the representations by ministers in relation to issues that they are pursuing on behalf of constituents.
Of course, my expectation and the expectation of the government is that departments will bring their operations in on budget. It is a demand that I make of Territory and Municipal Services, just as it is a demand that each minister makes of all their agencies. Sometimes we are successful; other times there is an overrun.
To provide some context, it needs to be understood that the $7 million budget overrun experienced in the last financial year was in a budget of $309 million. It was less than two per cent, or just on two per cent of the budget’s outlays. I think we need to put this in that context.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, a supplementary question?
MR SMYTH: Thanks, Mr Speaker. Minister, why don’t you know what the political influences were, and what measures have you implemented to ensure that political influence does not compromise the department’s ability to complete its work?
MR STANHOPE: There is not any suggestion at all. The political influence, if there is political influence, is the political influence of a minister actually making demands of a department. That is what ministers do.
Mr Smyth: Now he does know!
MR STANHOPE: No, I say I was not privy to the conversation. I do not know who made the comment. Do you mean that I should have interfered? Is that what you are suggesting? You are actually suggesting that I should interfere—that I should go out on a witch-hunt? I should demand to know who said this?
Mr Coe: Yes, you should.
MR STANHOPE: I should, should I? There should be a witch-hunt, should there, Mr Coe? Mr Coe thinks there should be a witch-hunt by me into who it was in the Department of Territory and Municipal Services who made this statement. I do not know who made the statement. I do not know in what context the statement was made. I do not know about what it was made, other than that it was transport related.
Mr Smyth: But you’re not going to find out?