Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2780 ..

For the last two years in a row, PCL has overspent its budget. Against a total cost budget of $76.7 million for 2008-09, PCL disclosed an estimated outcome of $84.2 million. But for the 2009-10 budget the minister was unable to convince his cabinet colleagues that PCL needed more money to be able to do its job. So they set the total budget at $75 million. Not only was this less than the estimated outcome for 2008-09, it was actually less than the total cost budget for the previous year, $1.7 million less.

So in 2009-10 the inevitable happened. Again, a total cost budget of $75 million ended up being $87½ million, with a further $3 million on top of that from the Treasurer’s advance, announced last week. We can only speculate on the reasons for this budget overrun. And why is it that we can only speculate? It is because this government, under the leadership of Jon Stanhope, have an aversion to accountability, openness and transparency. Question after question is returned either with a non-answer or with no answer at all because it is too hard for them to pull together.

Earlier in the day, Mr Seselja touched on the level of questioning in relation to how output classes work, what programs there are in each output class and how much money is allocated to them, and I noticed that Mr Rattenbury asked questions in this area in relation to PCL in the estimates. He got an answer, but he got an answer for the financial year which is about to conclude, not for what the government proposes to do in PCL in this coming financial year, which begins the day after tomorrow.

When we ask questions about the budget that starts the day after tomorrow, the government are either incapable or unwilling to tell other members of the Legislative Assembly, and through them the people of the ACT, what they propose to do. PCL is an important area. It is the area that does all the mowing. It is the area that looks after all of the reserves in the ACT. The ACT has as a proportion of land mass more reserves than any other jurisdiction in Australia. It is an extraordinarily important area. It is the area that is responsible for maintaining our biodiversity. As we spoke about last week, it is the area that is responsible when the awful inevitability comes of conducting culls of kangaroos. It is also the area that is responsible for culling and eradicating feral animals. All of this is designed to ensure the continuance of our biodiversity.

But this minister and this government are incapable of telling us with any degree of certainty what they do and what they propose to spend money on this year. And they are incapable of giving reliable answers with any degree of certainty about how effective the programs were for previous years. There is one exception: I did find quite fulsome answers from the Chief Minister, in his guise as the minister responsible for PCL, about the rabbit eradication program over the last few years at Mount Painter, Mount Majura and the Pinnacles. I have to congratulate the staff, through the minister, for the strong work that they have done in that area. But, generally speaking, I have found reluctance from the Chief Minister to answer questions about what is being done in this important area and, because of that, we are in a situation where we are not able to offer sufficient support to the people on the ground who are doing hard work.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video