Page 167 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 10 February 2010

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establish the panel of consultants to provide advice on possible budget savings, and where did the advice come from that such a panel was needed?

MS GALLAGHER: I was going to answer this at the end of question time, because it is exactly the same question that Mr Smyth asked me, so I cannot believe you have dudded yourself out of a question to me. It was 18 November 2009. It was advice from Treasury to me, which I believe went to cabinet through the EREC process.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Coe, a supplementary?

MR COE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Treasurer, what information was used to make the decision to establish the panel of consultants to consider possible savings?

MS GALLAGHER: What information was used? We have a process, the expenditure review committee. They have met. They have met across governments, chaired by Treasury and CMD. They are looking across a number of years. In that final year of the forward estimates, we are looking to find $122 million worth of savings. Those savings obviously will not be met through the one per cent efficiency dividend that we have imposed on government, nor will it be found just through wage restraint. So we need advice coming not just from our agencies or from the non-government sector, the community consultation process, about where those savings should come from. It was a collective view of EREC, on advice to cabinet, that this was the best way forward. And I think it is. Have you got any other ideas?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, a supplementary?

MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Treasurer, what will the consultants do that the Treasury and departments cannot do to find these savings?

MS GALLAGHER: I have a lot of faith in Treasury; indeed, all of our agencies provide us with excellent advice. But I do not think it would be a surprise to anybody in this place that from time to time public services across Australia—across the world, indeed—use consultants for expert advice on different matters. For example, undertaking research, financial modelling, benchmarking reviews—

Mr Smyth: And that can’t be done inside Treasury?

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Smyth, you are against any outsourcing or commissioning of work from consultants now, are you? Treasury has its limitations. It is a small agency and it has a lot of work to do. From time to time, when expert opinion is required—for example, maybe some analysis done on our superannuation account or our insurance premium—it is quite appropriate that governments seek that advice externally from experts in the field to ensure that we are getting a range of advisers in the decisions that governments take. I do not think you have uncovered a new way of doing things here, Mr Smyth. I think this has been pretty standard practice. I note that we have not had one idea from the Liberals around how they would offer any help towards the $122 million in savings. In fact, I do not think I have had any from the Greens. I do not think I have had any from the community.

Mr Smyth: We offered to sit down with you, and you rejected it.

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