Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 March 2017) . . Page.. 854 ..
My staff have spent a lot of time comparing it to the wasteful spending that we have seen on the part of the ACT government. Only today we saw a $2,000 a day contract for financial advice to the health department, which really should be provided by public servants on something considerably less than $2,000 a day. The Auditor-General criticised the LDA for a lack of transparency, accountability and rigour when it paid $1 million to buy a business when it did not have to spend that amount of money on it. That would have funded SHOUT for many years to come. We could always, of course, compare the amount of money being spent on SHOUT to the amount of money being spent on the chief executive of the light rail project. The demands of SHOUT pale into insignificance compared to that.
I think I should conclude on a point that has also been made my colleague Ms Lee. It comes from former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope. There have been times when Mr Stanhope and I have agreed in the past. It is not unusual.
Mr Wall interjecting—
MRS DUNNE: They are not as few and far between as Mr Wall might think. On this occasion I congratulate Mr Stanhope on speaking out. He said:
Every government in Canberra since the 1980s has, for starkly obvious reasons—
but they are not obvious to this minister—
regarded the funding of SHOUT as a priority. The decision to cease funding SHOUT has, therefore, to be interpreted as meaning that the government believes that it is either now redundant or at best that its existence and operations are now not regarded as a priority.
We can all accept that prioritising expenditure is necessary and often difficult. We acknowledge that. However, when a government puts a budget together it does so on behalf of all of us, with our money, and, hopefully, mindful of the community’s expectation that the priority accorded to expenditure is consistent with its values and its priorities. It behoves the government to explain in detail why a program of inestimable value to the community such as SHOUT, which has been funded for decades with the full support of the community, is to be defunded.
At this stage, with the government clearly moving to withdraw paragraph (2)(a) of Ms Lee’s amendment calling on the government to continue financial assistance until 30 June 2019, it shows that they are not prepared to put their money where they should. They are casting around for other options, and you hear the mealy-mouthed words from the Greens supporting this. They should not be looking for another source of funding. They should be going as they have always gone with a clear expectation that the ACT community will fund this important organisation that serves 40 or so organisations and, through that, thousands of Canberrans who pay their taxes.
MR WALL (Brindabella) (11.21): I would like to begin by thanking Ms Lee for bringing this motion to the Assembly as it reflects the need and the desire of so many