Page 2970 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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The … efficiency dividend is not intended to impact the delivery of services to the community.

That may be the intention, but we all know that that is not often the outcome. It goes on to say:

The efficiency dividend is a savings mechanism that is being utilised across the majority of State, Territory and Commonwealth budgets.

That may be true, but again we want to know how efficient has it actually been. The final paragraph on that point says:

As indicated in the Budget Papers, proposed efficiency dividend measures are considered by the Budget Committee with advice from EREC to ensure there are no impacts on service delivery.

The recommendation is quite wide on the efficacy of the policy. We have an efficiency dividend and then the minister has asked for additional savings which would normally be considered part of an efficiency dividend. So we have got an efficiency dividend on the efficiency dividend, and you have to ask: is that an efficient way to go about trying to rein in the budget? We know there are still large savings to be made—there are talks of a plan—but we do not really see the plan and we do not really see how the plan will work.

Again, in the interests of openness and accountability, I think such a review would be a good thing. I think it will be interesting to see how it does affect the delivery of services, because it must. It must in some way affect the delivery of services if you are reining back the expenditure of the departments. I hope that the Treasurer might reconsider that approach.

The last of the recommendations that I will look to that disappoint me in terms of openness and accountability is recommendation 35:

The Committee recommends that the ACT Treasury Directorate conduct a comprehensive cost of living analysis of Government taxes, fees and rates on Canberra families since self government.

The government’s response is:


The explanation is:

The Government carefully considers the impact of revenue and taxation collected as a matter of course through the annual budget process.

I am not sure that it is true. They should. But I am not sure that it is true. Again, in the interests of openness, in this new era of openness and accountability, they are just words. The Chief Minister will be hoist on her own petard if she actually wants to be open and accountable.

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