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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 March 2010) . . Page.. 1378 ..

is a very strong view in the private sector that private certification is the way to go. But I also accept that there is a very strong view from some in the community who have had bad experiences in relation to this that some greater level of regulation from government is required.

I am examining a range of issues. I am looking at a range of different legislative options to ensure that there is greater certainty for residents and that this perception of a conflict of interest can be addressed. Yes, I acknowledge that there is this problem and I am looking at a range of different ways to address it.

Public service—staffing

MR COE: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, the ACT public service profile for 2008-09 shows that staffing has grown in the ACT public service by 1,216 in the last 12 months. The average salary cost of a staff member is $60,972. Treasurer, do you consider it prudent to increase staff costs by over $74 million during a financial crisis?

MS GALLAGHER: The government does watch our staffing levels very closely.

Mr Smyth: Mr Stanhope used to not watch it. He was shocked that it had grown.

MS GALLAGHER: I was just wondering why the Liberals were being so quiet, but Mr Smyth has let the side down. I did have a suspicion that it could have been because Mr Moore is in the audience and they might be a little bit worried about a negative story in the CityNews, but good on you, Mr Smyth; you have let the side down.

Mr Smyth: Point of order, Mr Speaker. I have never been worried by Michael Moore’s presence at any event.

Mr Hargreaves: Point of order, Mr Speaker. I have.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you for the commentary. Ms Gallagher, the question.

MS GALLAGHER: We do watch the issue of our staffing numbers very closely. If you go back and have a look at the staffing profile and where the great staffing increases have been, they have been largely in health, education or other areas where the government has made a conscious policy decision to deliver a program that has required staff.

As our services to the community grow, and they are growing every year, our staff profile will grow as well. But it is an issue that we watch very closely. We acknowledge that 60 per cent of our budget is our staffing costs. Part of our budget plan is to make sure that we have some wage restraint going on when our budget is under stress. Of course, staffing levels are a part of that equation in every decision that this government takes. We are very conscious of any expansion, but we do so with our eyes open.

MR COE: I have a supplementary, Mr Speaker.

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