BUSINESS FRANCHISE LICENCES (PETROLEUM PRODUCTS) AMENDMENT BILL
MOTOR VEHICLES TAXATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
ROAD IMPROVEMENT (SPECIAL FUNDING) AMENDMENT BILL
Debate resumed from an earlier hour.
(Ashfield) [7.30]: The role of the Victims Compensation Tribunal should not be underestimated. Honourable members will recall that as long ago as the Askin Government a scheme was initiated to compensate victims of crime. Since then, under the administration of various governments, the legislation has undergone dramatic change. The maximum amount of compensation payable to victims of crime is now $50,000. It is estimated in the Budget Papers that $39 million in compensation payments will be paid to victims of crime. However, page 130 of Budget Paper No. 3 reveals that the Victims Compensation Tribunal has collected $3.325 million from criminals. In accordance with the legislation it is estimated that the tribunal will pay out $39 million to victims of crime, yet it has recouped only $3 million from criminals. That leads me to the important point that the amount of money to be awarded to victims of crime will be diluted because of the Government's own waste and mismanagement. This will seriously diminish the program that has been in train in New South Wales law for some considerable time.
The Attorney General has said that the legislation will be reviewed. Those of us who have been members of this place for some time know what a review of legislation means. It means that victims of crime will receive less compensation for the criminal act occasioned to them. That cannot be supported. I have asked the Attorney General to make public the terms and conditions of the review. At page 130 of Budget Paper No. 3 there is a grievous financial anomaly; it shows a complete imbalance in that the compensation funds are being met through the Government's own general funding. Though that is admirable, the 1989 legislation provided for moneys to be collected from
the criminals in the system. The Government made great fanfare of that, yet as I say only $3 million has been collected from criminals. In a report tabled in this Parliament it was revealed that in the first two years of the scheme's operation less than $600,000 was collected from the real criminals in the system. It was a fairly hollow promise by the Government that criminals will pay for the victims of crime. The Government's real intention has been exposed. It will diminish the role of the Victims Compensation Tribunal, abolish appeals to the District Court, and, as the Budget figures reveal, the maximum amount payable to victims of crime will be diminished. Once again the victims of crime will receive a complete snub from the Government. The Victims Compensation Tribunal has a backlog of cases. Page 130 of Budget Paper No. 3 shows that the same number of people are being employed by the tribunal as have been employed for the past three or four years, namely 25 staff to handle about 8,000 outstanding claims.
The arbitration system was a system valued by various courts. As I have said, throughout the courts' administration there will be a dramatic increase in the number of fees being paid. Doubtless the Government has a hidden agenda in relation to court fees. Litigants who go to court will be socked by the Government with a dramatic increase in court fees. Court of Appeal fees increased from $300 to $1,500. The filing fee on a statement of claim increased from $120 to $300, and honourable members would be aware that an action cannot be commenced until a statement of claim has been lodged. The Budget Papers reveal the Government's hidden agenda to sock those who use the courts' administration by increasing fees. One of the concepts originated about eight or 10 years ago was a system of arbitration in the courts. I have heard Government Ministers in this Chamber applaud the arbitration system because it helped to reduce the court backlog. It is estimated that in the year 1992-93, $400,000 will have been expended on the arbitration system in the District Court. The previous year $1.134 million was expended. This massive 300 per cent decline will have the effect of curtailing the continuation of the arbitration process. This Government will be known as the Government that got rid of the arbitration process within the District Court. Arbitration has all the benefits that members who are familiar with the civil justice system understand. It enables parties to litigate at less cost.
The arbitration system has enabled litigants to have Supreme Court and District Court matters arbitrated informally without the necessity of a judge or jury being present. Significant time and cost have been saved by litigants and the courts' administration. The arbitration system has helped to reduce the numbers of proceedings in the civil list. Fewer matters are being contested in court. Parties are able to resolve their differences and litigate their claims against each other. Through its Budget the Government is saying death to the arbitration system. The goodwill built up over eight or nine years, which involved the appointment of arbitrators to the District Court, will be gone for ever. That is a short-term economic saving by the Government, which will lead to one thing and one thing only: further delays in the District Court and civil lists. As the Government has not allocated funds comparative to those of the previous year, it will result in the demise of the arbitration system.
My colleague the honourable member for Liverpool recently raised a question in this House about the Ombudsman. Honourable members would have read a press release from the Ombudsman some time ago indicating that the shortage of funds prevented him from continuing with his inquiries. I refer to the tragic Angus Rigg case. In March of this year police sought an extension of the investigation, and consent was given to the Ombudsman. A further extension was sought in June. That is the present position with respect to the Ombudsman's investigation. As we know, the Ombudsman will deliver a report to the Parliament on, I think, 9th October. In August 1991 the
complainant notified the Ombudsman of the near tragic circumstances of Angus Rigg. The Ombudsman was not able to complete an inquiry, an independent investigation, because of lack of funding from the State Government. There is no greater indictment of any government. The Government must bear the full brunt of its failure to supply the Ombudsman with the necessary funds to conduct a complete and overall inquiry. I think the Minister for Police and Emergency Services would have wanted that inquiry completed; it would have saved him the personal rebuff he suffered to his political career today. It may have given lie to some of the issues being peddled at present by the Government about this matter. The Ombudsman made it known to the Parliament and the public that he did not have the funds at that time to enable him to complete his inquiry. The blame for the result of that inquiry rests fairly and squarely with the Government.
In the past five or six years governments have made promises to amalgamate the police services in my electorate with those of the adjoining fire station. Because of the size of a block of land and its proximity to Liverpool Road and other major highways, it would be a great area for emergency services to be utilised. It is a large block of land and part of it could be sold and utilised for other purposes. There is no reason why the money could not be made available to upgrade Ashfield police station. The Ashfield district has the highest incidence of criminal activity in the inner west of Sydney and, regrettably, in New South Wales. It has suffered a loss of between 20 and 30 officers, and the community suffers as a result. In view of the altercation which has taken place between the Minister for Police, who was sacked today, and the Commissioner of Police, I should like to know whether my constituents have been seriously disadvantaged as a result of there being no money? Did the Minister for Police issue, as he should have, a direction to the Commissioner of Police that a new police station at Ashfield should be included in the capital works program. This is a matter of concern for my constituents.
Last week my colleague the honourable member for Liverpool asked why Cabinet withdrew Budget funding for the COPS computer system. Was it because of the brawl between Commissioner Lauer and the Minister for Police? When will the people of New South Wales be told the real issues behind the Minister's sacking? The Minister has not had a record of great parliamentary performance. He has had nicknames such as "Torpedo Ted". His history as Minister for Police included the Brennan shooting and the Blackburn affair - all honourable members will recall that he lied about the State Drug Crime Commission's ability to investigate that. How could anyone forget the Gundy shooting? The Minister refused to apologise or compensate immediately the people involved. Honourable members will recall Operation Asset, when the Minister lied to the metropolitan media, the Independents, the Opposition and the Parliament. There was the Strathfield massacre, after which the Minister attempted to coop the sittings of the Parliament and gag debate on the firearms legislation. Obviously, there were ample opportunities for the former Premier to take action against the Minister for Police.
There is now public evidence of the conflict between Commissioner Lauer and the Minister for Police. There have been different accounts of briefing material sent to the Minister's office. As I have said, Cabinet has withdrawn its funding for the COPS computer program. This is a serious matter. It is important that we localise the matter in order to understand how my constituents in Ashfield have been seriously disadvantaged by virtue of the fact that antagonism has been evidenced between the Commissioner of Police and the Minister for Police. Notwithstanding what the media has said, the Minister for Police has not been sacked; he has been shifted sideways. He is still the Leader of the Government in the upper House. [Time expired
(Upper Hunter - Minister for Finance, Assistant Treasurer, and Minister for Ethnic Affairs) [7.46]: Having been involved in the preparation of the Budget, I am pleased to respond to it and to one or two points made by the Leader of the Opposition. This is a very good Budget. It represents a balance between responsible fiscal management - a continuation of the efficiency drive which had been under way for some four years under the previous administration - and debt containment. That central pillar not only is responsible but provides within it the capacity to increase capital expenditures in genuine infrastructure, which will create new jobs - real jobs. The Australian
, in its editorial the day after the Budget, stated:
While continuing the thrust of reforms of the previous premier, Mr Greiner, the 1992-93 NSW Budget also tries to ease some of the pain of the recession, create jobs and kick-start economic recovery in Australia's largest State through a one-off boost in public spending on construction.
More important, however, the Fahey Government has maintained the pressure on public trading enterprises to be more efficient and productive and has stuck to a medium-term plan to cap State debt.
I have been unable to find a better summation of the Budget than that. It was a succinct explanation of the central strategy of the Budget. The Budget was definitely well received all round. In fact, when reading newspapers, particularly the more significant financial journals and financial press, I could find only one negative editorial - surprisingly in the Daily Telegraph Mirror
. Apart from that, the Budget has been totally accepted and acclaimed by the media and all sectors of the community. I will concentrate on a number of the key initiatives of the Budget and offer a slightly more detailed explanation than was possible within the framework of the Budget Speech. I will refer to some of the key targets within the Budget. The first target is to contain public sector debt to a level where there is no real growth. In this regard, the Government is aiming for a Budget result which will see no real growth in debt in the budget sector until at least 1994-95. As honourable members will understand, this Budget, as has been the practice since the coalition took office, provides a three-year strategy. That strategy refers to a zero increase in real debt. That is a significant statement to make, particularly as it is made to the market. It is important that the market knows that the State Government will not undertake massive borrowings, at least within the three-year framework of the Budget. That will have a significant effect on the raising of capital and the finance market. It will be of assistance in keeping interest rates in this State down.
The strategy will be supplemented selectively by privatisation of some Government assets, with the proceeds going directly to debt reduction. In other words, New South Wales will pay its way. It will not mortgage its taxpayers and the community, and commit them to future debt from which they may not be able to recover. Consider what has happened during the regime of the Federal Government where the deficit was $15 billion, which will translate immediately into increased borrowing - a borrowing spree, a debt binge one could say - that will be undertaken by the Federal Government. That debt increase is unsustainable. The consequences of a $15 billion increase in debt in one year to finance the Federal Government's deficit will be dramatic, especially on increasing demand where the productive capacity is incapable of responding immediately. That increased debt will have a consequential effect of drawing in imports in a grand fashion, and it will affect the exchange rate. The pressure on debt and debt financing that will be undertaken by the Federal Government will have an upwards effect on interest rates in the community. All of those factors, including the inflationary effects, enable one to contrast the attempt by the Federal Government at a cheap grab for votes leading up to an election year in a period that it sees as being of significance with what is being done in New South Wales. The Federal Government is mortgaging our future in an irresponsible way.
Much has been said by Opposition members about the proceeds from the sale of the GIO. The Leader of the Opposition suggested on several occasions, and not only in his response to the Budget Speech of the Premier, and Treasurer, that the Budget is underpinned and supported by the sale of the GIO. In other words, he said that the proceeds from privatisation of the GIO - $1.8 billion in gross terms; $1.2 billion from the float and the remainder in debt retirement - underpin the Budget, as if to imply that the sale extinguishes the deficit. That demonstrates his ignorance of budgeting. With or without the proceeds from the GIO privatisation the deficit would be precisely the same as is expressed in this Budget, projected to be $1.225 billion. That has nothing to do with the cash position of the Government. The significance of the proceeds from the sale of the GIO is that the Government will not need to go to the market-place to borrow so that it can fund its deficit. The debt containment policy of having the cash will obviate the need to borrow and will be supplemented by direct debt reduction to the tune of about $600 million, one item of which is the single reduction of $430 million in the indebtedness of New South Wales to the Commonwealth. That reduction is of the order of 6 per cent of the State's indebtedness to the Commonwealth. The central pillar of the GIO privatisation is that it has enabled the Government to contain debt and to some extent to reduce debt. That will have a far more beneficial and significant effect than any suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition that the proceeds from the GIO somehow disguise a Budget deficit.
It is curious to note that the Leader of the Opposition said that the Labor Party opposed the sale of the GIO during the election, but, like the Independents, supported the GIO sale. That is a most outrageous remark. Everything that the Labor Party did during the debate on the legislation for privatisation of the GIO- - including its attitude to the two necessary amendments, its actions in respect of the disallowance of a regulation, and the amendments proposed by it - had the primary motivation of preventing the privatisation of the GIO. The Labor Party failed to support the Government amendments that were integral components of the privatisation. Those actions would have been show stoppers in their own right. That demonstrates the hypocritical nature of the comments that I have heard the Leader of the Opposition make at seminars in the central business district: that the Labor Party supported privatisation of the GIO. That was a complete lie. Opposition members now are trying to ride on the success of the GIO privatisation by claiming to have supported it. The strategies contained in the Budget to contain debt are fivefold. First is the restraint on current spending, which will continue. Second, this year's one-off boost to capital works spending and job creation will be contained in the following years, to reflect a no-growth strategy. In other words, that is a one-off injection of capital expenditure to create very necessary jobs - real jobs.
The direct and indirect job component will yield about 18,000 jobs. Part of the attack made by the Australian Labor Party on the Budget took about three or four directions. On the second day after the Budget was handed down an attempt was made to refer, in the Budget Estimates contained in Budget Paper No. 3, to the estimates of job reductions. The Labor Party used a document that was put out by the Opposition spokesman on finance in the other place. That document referred selectively to estimates of job reductions in some departments but did not include estimates of job increases in others. I shall refer to three in particular. In the estimates for education one finds that between last year and this year the average increase in positions in education will be 2,566. On the same basis the estimates for the environment show an increase of 255 jobs, natural resources 62 and justice 83. The significant one is education, comparing year average with year average. On the same basis the Labor Party was more concerned to highlight the average year to year decreases and ignored completely the average year increases. That shows the fraudulent way in which the Labor Party has attempted to respond to the Budget.
The third basis of the debt containment strategy relates to a selective recourse to taxes to finance the Budget in the face of collapsing revenue, a tax package that was selected to have minimum or zero impact on businesses - taxes that would therefore not have any deflating effect on commercial activity. The fourth basis of the strategy is to continue the move towards a commercial approach to dividend receipts and taxation payments of government trading enterprises. The efficiencies and microeconomic reforms in government trading enterprises are significant achievements of the Government over the past four or five years. The difference between the achievements of New South Wales and Victoria in microeconomic reform, efficiency and commercialisation is reflected very much in the proceeds this State has received - close to $1 billion. In 1987-88 the proceeds from government trading enterprises were $129 million, whereas this Budget projects proceeds of $980 million from dividends and tax equivalent payments in the non-budget sector, the government trading enterprises.
Quite clearly, a comparison between this State and, say, Victoria reveals the marked deficiency in government trading enterprise reform, which obviously has not taken place in Victoria and which underpins the Budget in this State. If anything, the microeconomic reform of our government trading enterprises has yielded this tremendous boost to our revenue. We project that in future years it will continue to underpin the Budget by continuing reform. What do the words efficiency and microeconomic reform mean? They mean almost $1 billion for this year's Budget - a not insignificant figure. Fifth, the debt strategy is intended to reduce net budget sector debt and contingent liabilities by undertaking privatisation where appropriate and applying the proceeds to reduce debt.
I now refer to some of the strategies involved in the Budget, in particular those in the non-budget sector, in respect of which the Government has just released for discussion a paper "The Commercial Approach to Dividend and Taxation Payments by Government Trading Enterprises". In the period we are referring to, there was a tremendous boost in government trading enterprise - GTE - revenue. The Government is very concerned that a policy now exists which is uniform and contains an identifiable formula for dividend receipts of GTEs, which in the past has been a reflection of an ability to pay rather than an application of any base formula. The Government is also very proud of its record of containing government charges. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that charges have increased disproportionately or at a rate greater than inflation. That is completely untrue. Rather, charges have declined in real terms, after inflation, by 0.8 per cent in the period from 1988 to 1993. The Budget Papers contain a State-by-State comparison and a comparison against inflation, which clearly demonstrates that there has been charge containment by the State.
One of the strategies associated with government trading enterprise reform is to move towards a normal investment return on a government trading enterprise based on an appropriate capital structure, including a debt structure, to fund essential community services such as education, welfare, health and police. The Government's businesses should underpin its social responsibilities and not be a drain on them. In that respect, we will move towards a gradual identification and application of community service obligations in each one of the GTEs so as to make those obligations visible and accountable and to ensure that a payment is received for community service obligations provided by government trading enterprises.
The final point I make is that the Budget strategy includes perhaps the most important single reform that the Government has undertaken in its four or five years of office, that is, the closure of the Public Service Superannuation Scheme. That scheme
would have seen the unfunded liabilities of the State balloon from the present figure of about $14 billion to about $140 billion by the year 2030, a figure which would have been utterly unsustainable and quite literally would have broken the State. The Government has taken the opportunity to move to a funded scheme, whereby all old schemes preserve the benefits of the current membership, but are closed to new members; and the new superannuation scheme will treat new employees according to the superannuation guarantee levy, an instrument of the Commonwealth Government. We will fully adhere to our obligations there, but the reform - namely, the move from an unfunded superannuation scheme to a funded scheme - will be the greatest single reform that the Government has undertaken. It will prevent a future government from literally going broke.
Land tax in the forthcoming year will be assessed on 31st December, and the Government has foreshadowed that it will be based on valuations that are being struck right now, based on 30th June, 1992. Because of movements in property values both in the central business district and in other non-CBD sectors of New South Wales, the tax will decrease, ranging from 15 per cent to 30 per cent in valuation. That will translate, particularly at the low end by the operation of the threshold, to an approximate average 30 per cent decrease in land tax assessments. This has been brought about particularly by the proposed abolition of equalisation factors and the move to current valuations. That will reduce land tax revenue from $759 million in the current year to $528 million in the forthcoming year, a most significant and long overdue reform - and one that I know will be welcomed by all land tax payers in New South Wales. This tremendous Budget is an investment in the future and one which has been universally acclaimed.
(Londonderry) [8.6]: Listening to Government members, one would swear that this Budget is the panacea for all evils. I will tell honourable members what western Sydney residents think of this Budget. The Budget aims at the macroeconomic scene in New South Wales - I suppose this is fair enough from the Government's point of view - but it does very little from the microeconomic point of view and it does very little to help Mr and Mrs Average of New South Wales. As a matter of fact, in this Budget the Premier, and Treasurer explicitly links privatisation with the reduction of net budget sector debt. The proceeds of the GIO sale were used to pay for this year's deficit. The Minister for Natural Resources said in his speech that the debt, excluding the proceeds from the GIO sale, would be $1,225 million. A number of issues arise from this. The most fundamental issue is that if it were not for the sale of the GIO the Government would be left lamenting; it would have nowhere to go, because it has run this State into a deficit of some $2 billion. The worrying aspect is that if the sale of the GIO had not gone through, the deficit in this Budget would have been astronomical.
The Government maintains that the best thing that ever happened to this State was the sale of the GIO. I ask the Government, as will many members from this side of the House: What will the Government sell next year? Will it sell the State Bank? I suppose that will be on the agenda if the Government can find someone to buy it. Will it sell the Opera House or Parliament House? That is probably on the agenda also. In selling the GIO, the Government sold back to the people something they already owned. Yet the Government tells us what a great job it has done. With the sale of the GIO comes a budget surplus of $465 million. If the proceeds of the sale of the GIO are taken out, the Budget looks very bleak. There is very little for Mr and Mrs Average. In 1991 the net profit of the GIO was $95 million. It paid taxes of $30 million and paid a dividend to the State Government of another $30 million. Not only the cost of maintaining the GIO was lost in privatisation; the consistently high revenues it brought in for the Government have gone also. That is something we cannot account for. The Government has not looked at accounting for next year, the year after, and the year after that.
Debt is the only equitable way to finance major capital works such as buildings and bridges because the benefits are stretched over an extended period. The Government may assert that it had to sell the GIO because of the debt factor, but let us examine the New South Wales debt. As at June 1991 total public sector net debt was 15 per cent of the gross State product for New South Wales. It was 20.4 per cent for all other States excluding New South Wales and 18.4 per cent including New South Wales. Therefore, debt is not such a bad thing after all. The only way large projects can be financed is through incurring debt. No Government today will ever have enough money to pay cash to undertake a project such as building the Opera House or to pay for plans for the Olympics. The sale of the GIO has been a great con job by the Government. The Leader of the Opposition summed up this Budget as an attack on jobs in New South Wales. In the coming year 5,000 jobs in the public sector will be lost . In the four years that this Government has been in office 50,000 jobs have disappeared from the public sector in New South Wales, yet the Government boasts about its wonderful record on attacking unemployment. This Government never ceases bagging Victoria and the terrible disasters of Labor governments, yet today we learn that the unemployment rate in New South Wales is only 0.8 per cent behind that of Victoria.
The unemployment figures are getting closer. Every time the figures are published they are closer. I would almost wager that when the next figures are published the New South Wales unemployment figure will be worse than that of Victoria. Last year the gross State debt rose by $1.9 billion to a staggering $29.5 billion. Since 1988 it has increased $5 billion. Yet this Government boasts that it is a great manager and asserts that the economy is healthy. For the second consecutive year the debt has increased as a proportion of the State gross product. That should be worrying to the Government. It is disgraceful that a further $3 million has been spent on Eastern Creek Raceway. It was to cost the taxpayers of New South Wales $2 million, but so far it has cost more than $90 million. If that is good management, I am a Dutchman. The $3 million extra being spent on Eastern Creek would be better spent in western Sydney where the money is needed. I shall enlarge on this later. Money is needed for schools and hospitals. People on low incomes cannot get into hospitals or polyclinics. There is a two-year waiting list. One could ask: what can be sold next year to make up the deficit? The people of New South Wales should be starting to ask what will be sold next. The Government is turning into a real estate agent. Perhaps members should be concerned that the Government has its eyes on selling Parliament House. One could imagine a developer standing here on one of the nicest pieces of real estate in Australasia. The sale of Parliament House would have to bring in a big quid.
Having mentioned areas in western Sydney that have been disadvantaged, I should like to mention health. The Londonderry electorate has the Mount Druitt Hospital and Hawkesbury Hospital. Mr Speaker, the Hawkesbury Hospital should interest you. In the Budget for 1990-91, $70 million in capital works was injected into the building of a public hospital at Hawkesbury. I think last year's Budget allocated $75 million to be spent in capital works on a public hospital at Hawkesbury. Today Hawkesbury still does not have a hospital. I remember vividly the day you, Mr Speaker, turned the first sod on this project. I have said many times that the only way that hospital will be built is if you and I go out there with picks and shovels, hammers and nails, and build it ourselves; even then I do not think it will be built. I quote from the Hawkesbury Gazette
of 2nd November, 1991:
Hawkesbury MP, Mr Kevin Rozzoli, believes the idea of private involvement will not "get past first base".
That is based on what Mr Phillips said during his visit to the hospital and the fact there is not sufficient private health cover in the area to bring it into consideration.
I have spoken to Mr Phillips' and Mr Hannaford's office staff and they do not think it is likely either but they said they have to look at every option "as a matter of course".
In the same publication Mr Phillips is quoted as saying:
"In terms of this project I am unaware of any private sector involvement or discussion. I am concerned with getting on with the job".
He dismissed the possibility of private funding being used because it would delay completion of the project.
That was 12 months ago and there has not been one brick laid or another sod turned out there - absolutely nothing. Today and every day in this Parliament the Minister for Health is trying to sell the fact that the next hospital to be privatised after Port Macquarie will be Hawkesbury Hospital. How can anyone in New South Wales believe the Government when its Minister made that statement on 2nd November, 1991, but today its attitude has totally changed. If members of the Government have any brains at all, they will take heed of what happened last Saturday at Port Macquarie. Port Macquarie is a safe National Party seat but 70 per cent of the people voted against privatisation. If a similar referendum were to be conducted throughout New South Wales the same result would be achieved. In the electorate of Hawkesbury, as Mr Speaker knows only too well, on several occasions at public meetings the vote has been 94 per cent or 95 per cent against privatisation. The locals do not want a bar of privatisation of Hawkesbury Hospital; nor should they have to put up with it.
Mount Druitt Hospital - a fine hospital - has experienced many problems because of underfunding. The Budget Papers do not provide extra funds for Mount Druitt Hospital or its people. It is a disgrace that children in western Sydney who need speech therapy and occupational therapy - from babies to 11-year-olds - are being denied the opportunity to receive treatment because of the Government's inaction. For two years I have made representations to the Minister yet nothing is provided in the Budget Papers this year for those services. The polyclinic at Mount Druitt receives more than 1,000 children - babies to seven-year-olds - each year. Of that 1,000 children who visit the clinic each year 300 need specialist speech therapy treatment. Many of the other 700 children are lucky because programs are provided to their parents to teach them at home. However, the 300 children needing specialist treatment are placed on an 18-month waiting list before they can obtain their first consultation. It is important that those children receive early treatment to achieve beneficial results, because if the problem is not corrected early, the children can have learning difficulties as well.
Speech therapists with whom I have spoken tell me that this part of western Sydney is unique. Some of those therapists, although they have worked worldwide, have never found so many people with a similar problem. I have begged the Government to allocate money for this service, but each time I have been denied. Most of these 300 children require therapy on a one-to-one basis. Two years ago four speech therapists worked at Mount Druitt. Today only two are employed. In a few weeks' time one of those is departing, leaving only one speech therapist. Replacements have not been found for any of those positions. It is an absolute disgrace and a slur on the Government. It is looking at the macros and not the micros and the ordinary everyday problems experienced by people in western Sydney.
I cite an example of what happens consistently at Mount Druitt Hospital. A constituent of mine from Blackett was booked in for an operation on 14th July, 1992. That date was changed to 10th July, 1992, and then to 17th July, 1992, and he was finally admitted at the fourth try. He was put through all the preliminaries - x-rays, blood tests and so on, with the lower part of his body being shaved and everything else - but at 4.45 in the afternoon, when he was on the trolley and just being wheeled into theatre, staff came and told him: "Look, we have got to send you home. Operations stop at 5 o'clock in this hospital. The Government won't give us money to pay overtime." And they sent him home. For most people an operation is a traumatic event; to be denied an operation, as this person was, is an absolute disgrace. That is happening every day in western Sydney.
The Government can crow as much as it likes about privatising Liverpool Hospital but it should come out and see how people there are coping with lack of medical facilities and care. I have said many times that parts of western Sydney have a Third World medical system. Things have not improved. This Budget will not improve the medical system in that part of western Sydney one iota. Many honourable members do not realise that more people live in western Sydney than live in Western Australia, South Australia, or Tasmania. The first thing the Government did when it came to power in 1988 was to take away the services of a chamber magistrate from Mount Druitt. If there is an area in New South Wales or Australia that needs a chamber magistrate more than Mount Druitt, I am yet to know about it. It is easier for Mount Druitt people who are charged with some offence to plead guilty, because they do not have the money to fight it. The Government made promises as long ago as 1988 - and repeated the promise today - to restore the services of a chamber magistrate to Mount Druitt. I have been promised by the Government today that that will be provided for in the next budget. But I have read nothing about it at all in the Budget, and that is another disgrace and example of inaction on the part of the Government.
The same problem arises with dentists. The Mount Druitt polyclinic has a two-and-a-half-year waiting list for people on low incomes who need dental treatment. Honourable members who have suffered toothache recently would appreciate that having to wait two and a half years for treatment would nearly send anyone around the twist. One fellow who got a temporary filling after a 16-month wait was told by the dentist, "Don't chew anything hard on the filling because it can crumble". The fellow thought, "That's good; I will be back fairly soon," and asked, "When can I come back for the permanent filling?" He was told it would be nine months. This should not happen. These are the small and everyday matters that the Budget does not address. Mount Druitt Hospital has decided to place a parking fee on everyone who goes into the hospital. It is interesting to note that an internally circulated document stated that it is envisaged that an annual fee of $104 will be collected by payroll deduction and that no-one will be exempt from paying for car parking facilities. The document states that the hospital hates to charge workers and visitors to the hospital but it has to as a result of cutbacks by the Government. [Extension of time agreed to.
Not only is the Government cutting back hospital funding; it is also turning hospitals into car parks. For all we know, doctors will be working as car park attendants to subsidise their wages. That is what this State has come to under the coalition Government. A matter that irks me greatly is public housing in the Londonderry electorate . The Budget Papers last year showed that 3,274 new premises were to be built in 1991-92. The Budget Papers and every report on the Budget boasts that the Government is cock-a-hoop about how it is looking after the poor people by putting them into public housing. This year the Government will build only 3,219 housing units. My
mathematics are not good, but that number of units is about 53 less than the Government built last year. The tragedy is that 75,000 people are on the public housing waiting list. The honourable member for The Hills, who lives on the leafy North Shore, laughs. He should try living in the western part of Sydney where 75,000 people are without homes and see if he laughs then - I bet he would not.
With a little restructuring that waiting list of 75,000 could be reduced dramatically. In the Londonderry electorate many people living in three-bedroom and four-bedroom accommodation whose families have moved on or died are looking for smaller accommodation. I should have thought that the Budget would have mentioned that in areas such as Mount Druitt the Government intends to build one-bedroom and two-bedroom accommodation for those who do not want to live in larger dwellings. But I cannot find any reference to that in the Budget Papers - it is just not mentioned. The Government has shown no compassion for the people of Mount Druitt or western Sydney or for that matter New South Wales, for the same disgraceful situation applies across the State. In the Mount Druitt part of the Londonderry electorate alone about 5,000 people are on the public housing waiting list. The Budget Papers show that the Government will build only 25 accommodation units for 5,000 people. In the Richmond section of that electorate about 3,000 people are on the waiting list. The Government will build a grand total of 18 accommodation units for them. That is really looking after the poor people of this State! It is an absolute disgrace. The Government should hang its head in shame.
I have been saying for a long time that there is a problem with homeless youth in the Richmond area of the electorate. For many years people have told me that Richmond does not have that problem but we are beginning to find out that many youths in that area are homeless. Though a hostel in that area looks after homeless youth, those kids are kicked out at 9 o'clock in the morning and cannot return until 5 o'clock in the afternoon, because the hostel does not have enough money to keep staff on. I had to approach the local council and ask it to put in showers and washing facilities so that those youths could have a shower and a wash. In the 12 months from 23rd March, 1991, to 23rd March, 1992, 32 youths were referred. In the past six months - under the Government that supposedly has done so well for the people of New South Wales - that number has increased to 110 youths, or an increase of 250 per cent. That is a record that the Government can really be proud of! Another 188 kids out in that area sleep under trees and bridges every night of the week, but the Budget will do absolutely nothing to help them. I turn to roads. People in western Sydney, through the 3 x 3 fuel levy, contribute 25 per cent of the total fuel tax collected from the whole of New South Wales. In return we do not get even 30 per cent of the money in road funding for western Sydney. Yet National Party seats, which pay nowhere near the amount of fuel tax that western Sydney pays, receive a whopping 60 per cent of the total revenue from the 3 x 3 fuel tax.
"Only just," says the Minister. All we want in western Sydney is a fair go, but we are not getting it. For a long time the Opposition has been pushing for necessary repairs, roadworks and widening of the Northern Road, at a staggering estimated cost of $10 million. A few weeks ago the Government said there might be some good news in the Budget. I opened up the Budget Papers and found that the Government, instead of giving $10 million, had given $50,000 - an absolute insult. Blacktown City Council needs between $40 million and $50 million to bring up to date roadworks in that electorate which have fallen into disrepair since 1988. The council received very little in the Budget for that purpose, and the money it did receive happens
to be Commonwealth money. Blacktown City Council needs between $120 million and $150 million to bring all its projects up to date. I have no doubt that by the time of the budget debate next year Blacktown's needs will have increased sizeably to almost $200 million. Hawkesbury City Council needs $20 million to complete necessary roadworks. As I have said, 60 per cent of the 3 x 3 fuel tax revenue goes to National Party electorates. The honourable member for The Hills is laughing; he is probably disappointed that he does not represent a National Party seat. A whopping $100 million is needed to complete projects in the Hawkesbury area. So big money is needed for western Sydney but we are not getting it. I am certain that we will not get it under the present Government.
A hobbyhorse of mine for a long time has been the Castlereagh liquid waste dump. At present the Government is proposing to build a megatip on top of the Castlereagh liquid waste dump. If it goes ahead, it will be the first time such a thing has been done. There is no a mention of this in the Budget apart from provision of money for recycling at Castlereagh. Testing for heavy metals is required to see once and for all whether the people in the area are safe. I have mentioned this many times. One street away from the Castlereagh liquid waste dump live three families which have had children in the past three or four years. Each child has been born with a cleft palate. The Government can tell us all day that there are no problems there, but until we get testing for heavy metals to determine whether there is a problem people will not feel safe. I know that testing for heavy metals runs into big dollars but people's lives are worth big dollars too. It is about time this Government put people before dollars.
Prior to Christmas last year disastrous bushfires occurred at Kenthurst. There is no doubt that such fires will occur again in different parts of western Sydney. The Hawkesbury Bush Fire Brigade has 21 fire brigades under its control and covers the biggest area in New South Wales, 2,000 square kilometres. Last year we tried to get the Hawkesbury Bush Fire Brigade $547,233 for new equipment and for new bushfire brigades. The Government provided, laughable as it was, $276,338. The shortfall has not been made up in this Budget, another thing for which the Government should be condemned. Some time ago a request was put in for a four-wheel drive at Penrith police station. There is very rough terrain in the area, particularly in parts of Londonderry, and such a vehicle is needed for police to do their job properly. The police Minister - luckily, he is now the past Minister - was asked to consider the provision of a four-wheel drive and he replied in writing that the police in the area did not deserve a four-wheel drive vehicle because their work did not involve their driving over rough terrain. The Minister knew nothing of what he was speaking about. I had hoped that provision of a four-wheel drive for Londonderry would have been included in the Budget but, again, it was not provided.
I turn now to the housing estate workers program. In my electorate in places such as Oakhurst, Hassall Grove and Bligh Park, which is just outside my electorate in your electorate, Mr Speaker, housing estate workers are badly needed. They provide a very cost-efficient service. The Government has taken away many such services. The Minister responsible wrote to me only last week to tell me that money would not be provided for housing estate workers. Building housing estates without providing the proper infrastructure, programs and housing for estate workers is a recipe for disaster, and this is what has happened in these newer parts of western Sydney. In view of the previous portfolio of the Premier, I thought the Budget might contain funding for the Skills West Training Centre. Apprentices at Skills West were exploited by being pushed on to downtime after they served their time. Their indentures were kept by Skills West Training Centre. It was a sham. Because the Premier was previously closely linked with
the Skills West program I thought the Budget would contain funding to increase productivity and to give the kids in that part of western Sydney a chance to do an apprenticeship so that they could land a job somewhere down the track. I have been through the Budget Papers about 10 times but I could find absolutely nothing relating to this program.
As I have said throughout this speech, the Budget was very disappointing for western Sydney and from the small person's point of view. It is not a Budget to help Mr and Mrs Average New South Wales; it is a Budget to try to make the Government look good. The Budget deficit is $1,225 million, a huge amount. The Government has claimed that, because of the sale of the GIO, it is heading for a surplus of $425 million. What a sham! As I said, there is no way that the Government needed to sell the GIO. New South Wales has the lowest debt factor of any State. Selling the GIO was the greatest con trick ever perpetrated on the people of New South Wales. The Government will rue the day this Budget was brought in. If the Government is so cocky about the Budget, why does it not call an election to see how far it would get? If it did, the term of the Premier would be one of the shortest on record.
(Davidson) [8.36]: Mr Speaker, we all enter this House hoping to make a worthwhile contribution. We all aim to represent the concerns and views of our constituents, make well considered decisions, improve the quality of life in this State, and leave New South Wales a better place for future generations. The community has ever increasing standards which it justifiably applies to its elected representatives in terms of integrity, honesty, consistency, accessibility and accountability. I hope that when I leave this place my contribution will be regarded as worthy and that I will have met the expectations others have of me. On this occasion, the first on which I have risen to speak in this place, I am conscious of how few citizens have the opportunity to stand and speak in this Chamber. I am fortunate and honoured indeed to represent not only the people of Davidson but an area that encompasses such a naturally attractive part of Australia. I am indeed grateful to many people. I thank the people of Davidson who, in endorsing the Government, chose me to represent them. Amidst the controversy and circumstances of the by-election, I believe the result was one which will benefit all people in New South Wales and provide greater political stability than otherwise may have been the case.
The events which preceded and followed my election have attracted significant political and public discussion. These events saw the departure of the best Premier this State - and indeed probably this country - has seen. The former Premier was a person never motivated by the prospect of personal gain. He, in his four years as Premier, was concerned only with improving the quality of life for all who live in this State. His contribution has been unmatched and we are all significantly better off for his time as a member of this House. There are many individuals whom I would like to thank: first, the many voluntary workers who tirelessly gave of their time. Theirs is a role too frequently overlooked. In particular I thank Deborah Klika and Judy McDougall, who gave substantially of their time and willingly shouldered the responsibilities of maintaining a campaign. They were aided unstintingly by many others I have thanked personally who worked like Trojans for a hectic 18 days. I would especially thank John Booth and Allan Viney - former members of this House - Rob Wendon, Robyn Young and Audrey Theile for their encouragement, support and advice. There were many friends whose contributions were invaluable, and I would like to publicly record my appreciation for their confidence in me and their enthusiasm. Finally, and certainly not least, my thanks go to Vicki and my family - Vicki, my fiancee, for her love and support, despite all the demands placed upon her; my sisters Debbie and Sarah and my grandmother,
Rose, for their continual help and my parents, Ron and Evelyn, who brought me up and encouraged an attitude of having a go at everything. Little did they know that I would pass through this place as a result.
The electorate of Davidson straddles upper Middle Harbour from Roseville in the south, Belrose in the north to Brookvale in the east. It comprises primarily residential development with some pockets of commercial, retail and light industrial use. The area is characterised by substantial bushland surrounds which feature Garigal National Park, Middle Harbour, Manly Dam and the catchment area of Narrabeen Lagoon. The electorate was named after a former Governor of this State, Sir Walter Edward Davidson, who is renowned for his political impartiality. The seat was formed in 1971. During a period of substantial residential growth we saw many new homes and families move into the area. The first State member for Davidson was Dick Healey, who had previously represented Wakehurst from 1963. He worked tirelessly in his 19 years and recognised the importance of preserving the natural beauty which typifies the area. He continues to play an active role in our local community.
The second member for Davidson, Terry Metherell, left an indelible mark on public life in this State. Among other things he will be remembered for the substantial reforms he initiated in the education system in New South Wales with a greater focus on computer technology, excellence, equity and choice. In a local sense one of his dreams was Garigal National Park, which he saw come to fruition. Both former honourable members for Davidson recognised the special natural features of our area. I too am committed to the preservation and maintenance of an area which is the envy of many who visit from elsewhere. In entering this Parliament, I do so as a member of a party which recognises the importance of the individual in our society. We believe in the freedom of people to determine their own destiny free of unnecessary constraints. We believe in all people having equality of opportunity. We believe people should have the right to make their own decisions on their own future. We believe they should be free to strive to achieve and, in doing so, to be rewarded for their own efforts.
We believe one key to improved economic performance in New South Wales is the re-emergence of incentive, which encourages all people to help themselves and, as a result, their country. The major political alternative in Australia encourages mediocrity by penalising achievers and rewarding the apathetic. It is unacceptable that individuals can elect to remain in the welfare system when they can build their own self-esteem and a career path working in a substantive job. It is unacceptable that the welfare structure can create circumstances where persons living off the community are on an equal footing with those who pursue a career and make a contribution to our economy. There is an attitudinal problem in some areas of our society which can only change if greater incentive to work is created. This is a factor which all governments need to bear in mind. The purpose of government is often the subject of community discussion. Abraham Lincoln said:
The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all in their separate and individual capacities.
Government should not exist for its own sake. It is there to serve the interests of the public. This Government has done much to achieve this with reviews of untouched Acts and questioning the existence of bodies which hitherto had been beset by dust. This has been the first government to seriously address the roles it should perform in this State. If there are no clearly identifiable benefits in existing legislation, then government should act and repeal it. If there are roles which can adequately be performed whilst
maintaining standards of service and costs, then avenues should be explored to that end. The sale or contracting of cleaning, maintenance and printing functions has seen improved services provided to government agencies at lower costs. An example of success in this area has been privatisation of third party compulsory insurance, which has seen reductions in premiums of up to 40 per cent. This was augmented in that the service provided to the public has increased with thousands of additional outlets with extended operating hours.
Not only can the sale of government insurance, banking and mining activities relieve government of responsibility for what is essentially the province of the private sector, but also recoveries can be applied to bearing down on the long-term debt which exists in our State. There are essential functions where government needs to ensure the provision of services. The provision of power, water and transport have in many areas been corporatised in order that the management and efficiency levels are on a par with those of private enterprise. This approach has seen a real reduction in utility costs. The Government's initiatives can act as a catalyst to stimulate economic activity and allow business with lowered costs to compete more effectively interstate and internationally. Workplace reform under the new Industrial Relations Act has given employees and employers greater flexibility in negotiating agreements which assist both parties. Increased efficiency and incentives are assisting the State economy and competitiveness.
Australia and New South Wales have many natural advantages which we should seek to capitalise on. Our future lies more than ever in those industries where we are better placed than our neighbours or trading partners, with our high-quality natural resources such as coal, wool, cotton, sugar and wheat. We should be looking to add value through refining and producing more valuable products. We are well positioned to export computer technology, finance and business services, telecommunications and tourism with our eyes well and truly fixed on the Asia-Pacific region. Industries which produce goods and services less efficiently than competitors in a free market will fail to survive. Protectionism not only preserves this inefficiency but denies consumer access to cheaper products. One of the major strategies of the Budget is the guarantee of service. Whilst the concept of name tags in the public service has sparked some amusement, it is at the heart of making the public service literally that - service to the public. For too long the public service attitude to the public has been on a monopolistic take-it-or-leave-it basis. This is changing.
In private enterprise service is the key to success and, indeed, survival. The focus on the customer is pre-eminent. Customers deserve a friendly first point of contact with a person they can relate to and identify easily. The use of name tags and personal names during telephone contacts will assist. The objective should be satisfying the customer in a prompt and pleasant fashion. In the same vein convenience of location and time is an equally important factor. Quality of service is reflected in a wide network of government offices and agencies combined with extended hours to meet the needs of the working customer base. Public transport is an issue of concern to many of my constituents north of the Roseville Bridge. The entire Manly-Warringah peninsula is serviced solely by road, comprising only three vehicular routes. This is the only major area of Sydney devoid of any form of mass transit. Public interest and support is high for a private sector light rail transport system which can connect the area to North Sydney.
Whereas much of the area is serviced by both private and public bus services, these forms of transport have to pass along heavily congested roads. Substantial time delays occur in addition to adverse impact on suburbs through which commuters pass en
route to their destinations. The only adequate solution is the provision of additional means of transport. I strongly support the introduction of such a system. If and when it comes to fruition, its success will depend on its convenience, speed and reliability. An independent route, primarily underground, which does not conflict with vehicular transport routes should enable quick transport from the peninsular to the North Shore rail system. North side councils are working together with Government members to see this concept proceed.
I was pleased to note the inclusion in the Budget of $3.5 million for the continued upgrading of Forest Way from two to four lanes. This will continue and will see six lanes provided, along with a cycle lane by 1996. This has been a project which until recent times has not received the attention it deserved. Forest Way is the busiest two-lane road in Sydney with a daily traffic count of 31,500 vehicles. This compares with other notorious two-lane roads such as Windsor Road, Wallgrove Road and Henry Lawson Drive, all of which have lower traffic volumes. The improved safety and alleviated congestion will substantially benefit many people, particularly those elderly residents of Wesley Gardens and Glenaeon Retirement Village in Belrose who experience substantial difficulties with the absence of pedestrian facilities near their homes.
As we approach the end of the twentieth century there is an ever increasing awareness of our environment. There are pressures to preserve the natural environment for future generations. These issues are present in our everyday lives in the form of sewage and garbage. Public debate on sewage disposal has been ongoing and is one of concern to many Davidson residents due to the close proximity of the northern beaches. Many local residents have been vocal in demanding clean and unpolluted beaches. This Government has taken substantial steps to increase the removal of solids from the ocean outfall system. At the North Head treatment works initiatives over the past 18 months have increased sediment recovery from 9 per cent to 38 per cent. Trials are commencing with dissolved air flotation, which could see sediment recovery increase to over 70 per cent. Sludge management has improved with chemical treatment used to form fertiliser for resale and reuse. I was pleased to see the expenditure of $37 million, which will see backup filters installed with new fine screens to further increase removal of solids. The ongoing programs will see continued improvements in effluent quality. Protection of the natural environment is close to the hearts of many who live on the Manly-Warringah peninsula. Garigal National Park contains much beautiful and sensitive natural vegetation. There are other important adjoining tracts of prominent and valuable land which I am optimistic will also be incorporated into the national park in future. I intend to pursue this end in recognition of personal and community desires. The greatest environmental problem, however, that we face today is waste management. We have relied for too long on burying our waste and ignoring a growing and complex issue. [Extension of time agreed to.
By 1998 Sydney will have exhausted its landfill sites and there is no agreed strategy to manage waste beyond that date. Approximately five million tonnes of solid waste is disposed of in New South Wales each year. Of this total, approximately three million tonnes is household waste disposed of in the Sydney region. Overall volumes are continuing to increase although widespread moves have been made to increase recycling. All bar four councils in the Sydney region will have weekly kerbside recycling schemes in place by the end of this year. Household separation is the most efficient way to collect recyclable materials. Australians are second only to the United States of America in the volume of waste material produced per capita each year. Currently in Sydney the rate of production is 870 kilograms per capita per annum compared with a United States rate of over 1,000 kilograms.
A waste hierarchy has been established in both the Environment Protection Authority and the waste recycling and processing service, which focuses firstly on waste avoidance. Systems should be introduced and production processes reformulated to ensure that waste is not produced in the first place. This particularly relates to encouraging the packaging industry to use materials which are able to be recycled and designed so as to achieve this end. Secondly, there should be recycling. Where the production of waste cannot be avoided, material should be recovered from the waste stream and re-used. Local and State governments need to co-operate with education programs and services to maximise the levels of recycling. Finally, waste disposal should be a last resort. Where waste cannot be avoided or recycled, it should be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. Neutralysis is an example of an innovative approach to disposal where, with the addition of clay, a pelletisation process can be used to manufacture building bricks and road base. These steps and others can assist in the waste crisis we all face.
Each year we throw away 200,000 tonnes of paper, 90,000 tonnes of glass and 75,000 tonnes of plastic. In more imaginative terms, this is equivalent to destroying one million trees, dumping enough sand to make 200 million glass soft drinks bottles and discarding enough plastic to make 1.8 billion recycled drink containers. The challenge now for Sydney and New South Wales is to develop a policy position that ensures the minimisation of waste volumes whilst guaranteeing that such waste management facilities as are needed are located in appropriate areas, based on decisions that are socially equitable. I look forward to the honourable Minister releasing a draft policy shortly to enable public consultation on this most important issue. It is not just a government problem; only commitment from individuals, the community and government together can solve these problems. We must all accept responsibility.
My interest in the parliamentary system has evolved from a strong interest in local issues, which resulted in my entering local government. This was a rewarding role and I believe local government is well placed to directly provide a variety of local services. There are great opportunities for reform in local councils, and the review of the Act will assist in achieving this. The new Act will be the first comprehensive review of local government since 1919 and has seen one of the most extensive consultative processes ever undertaken. When put in place, it will enable councils to dramatically reorganise their service provision and structures. The rewards should benefit the community with better financial management, greater efficiency and accountability. The private sector will also be a beneficiary with streamlining of approval processes. This should assist individuals and business alike. Costly project delays should be minimised whilst not eliminating community involvement in the decision-making process.
There have been other examples in recent times of this Government's genuine desire to consult with the community. This has occurred with local government in relation to urban consolidation. Community concerns still exist with the style and degree of increased density of housing. Local government has an important role to play in achieving the objectives of urban consolidation by establishing adequate guidelines which assist in maintaining the character of local areas. I have a simple rule for my role as a member of this House. It is to represent, assist and support, individually and collectively, the people of Davidson. It is to understand their views and appreciate their concerns. I was elected of the people, by the people, and I am for the people. I look forward to the future, for that is why I am here. I consider that there is much that is positive that can be achieved. I believe that this Government offers hope for all citizens of this State and reflect the words of Lyndon B. Johnson:
I believe that the essence of government lies with unceasing concern of the welfare and dignity and decency and innate integrity of life for every individual.
(Port Jackson) [9.0]: I take this opportunity to congratulate the honourable member for Davidson on his maiden speech. I well remember what a nerve-wracking experience it was for me when I made my maiden speech, and I am sure he will be relieved now that it is over. I begin my contribution to the budget debate by making some observations about the underlying philosophy of the Budget. I make it clear at the outset that the views I am about to express are not necessarily the majority view of my party. I do not advocate a borrowing spree but I am concerned about the way the Budget seems to be tainted by the philosophy of avoiding deficit and debt at all costs. I regard it almost as a deficit-debt phobia. Undoubtedly the Budget is characterised by a desire to reduce debt through minimal borrowings; New South Wales is not even borrowing to the limit set by the Loan Council. Governments have expenditures and operational costs that cannot be met merely from the profits of government activities. The money has to come from somewhere. Clearly, the money for this Budget for the next 12 months has come from the sale of the Government Insurance Office. That sale has allowed the Budget to come in with a $465 million surplus. In selling off the GIO, the people of New South Wales, the current Government and future governments will have lost the potential gross product of the GIO. The operating surplus of government assets, such as the GIO, provide an alternative to increased taxes and charges.
In 1991 the GIO provided a net profit of $95 million. In addition, it paid $30 million in taxes to the people of New South Wales and it paid a dividend of $30 million; a total of $155 million, which is a significant contribution to the economy of New South Wales. The sale of the GIO has caused New South Wales to lose a significant revenue base, yet on the expenditure side of the equation the responsibilities of the Government remain unaltered. What will happen next year or in future years when the State does not have a GIO to sell? In the current environment of low interest rates, borrowing by governments is an intelligent option, and governments should not necessarily shirk from borrowing. Borrowing is the only way that governments can afford to meet their capital expenditure requirements, and for that reason it provides a strong incentive for governments to aspire to the ownership of more, rather than fewer, productive assets. The inherent flaw in privatisation is that once the assets are sold one is forced to borrow more money in the long term; it becomes a vicious circle.
Debt can provide an equitable means by which to finance major capital works. Bridges, hospitals and schools are major items from which the whole community benefits, not merely the generation for which they were constructed initially. The benefits are stretched out over a long period of time. It is just and fair to make successive generations pay for a project by borrowing and using the debt servicing of that borrowing as a type of tax. It is unreasonable to expect one generation of taxpayers to foot the bill for such major works. A prospective tax is a key component of intergenerational equity in infrastructure financing. The debt situation of New South Wales is quite favourable. As at June 1991 the total public sector was 15 per cent of gross State product, yet in other States of Australia the level was 20.4 per cent. Doubtless debt servicing must be kept under control. Governments cannot afford to let it get out of hand. However, the level of debt servicing for the period 1991-92 in New South Wales was 13.1 per cent compared with the average for the rest of Australia of 16.5 per cent. In that sense New South Wales is doing well.
Except for 1988-89, the debt servicing ratio of New South Wales was below the average of other States. Because of falling interest rates our debt servicing will benefit. At present the finance requirement in New South Wales is 0.9 per cent of gross State product - a fairly manageable level - though in recent months it has risen higher than that
of other States. Many nations would be pleased to be able to report that the difference between government income and expenditure was 0.9 per cent. I make the point that there is no one level of correct debt. A range of factors must be taken into account, including future capacity to pay, debt servicing, and future and current receipts. On these indices New South Wales should not be obsessed about borrowings. I am concerned that the fixation over debt is a means to distract attention away from actual social outcomes and neglected vital infrastructure maintenance. Our hospitals are in a shambles, schools require maintenance, the public housing program falls short of demand, and the desperate need being exhibited by the community. We are in the middle of a recession. In a recession should a government decide on a deflationary policy or should it spend to stimulate demand? I belong to the old school that believes people should be given some dignity through employment, and demand should be stimulated by creating jobs, public works and so on. Governments ought to borrow money to provide those vital public assets.
I am concerned about the Government's job creation program. The Budget mentions $540 million being allocated as a one-off boost to capital works but that commitment is less generous than it first appears. In the first instance $386 million of that one-off boost is an underexpenditure from the 1991-92 Budget. Effectively the boost is only $154 million, and jobs will not be funded beyond 1992-93. After 1993 we have a no-growth strategy; that is of considerable concern to me. If New South Wales and Australia are to get on the right footing, those jobs must be permanent jobs. The philosophy underlined in my opening remarks is clearly evident on the ground, and its impact in many areas is quite disastrous. The Budget has failed to provide public housing for my constituents. After adding up the new units that are to be constructed in the electorate of Port Jackson I came up with the princely figure of 32 new dwellings, which is nothing short of pathetic. The demand for affordable public housing in the inner city is higher than the demand anywhere else in New South Wales and probably higher than anywhere else in Australia. Waiting times for public housing in Port Jackson are up to seven years. Not a week passes without some homeless woman, with a toddler in tow and either a new born baby in her arms or one on the way, speaking about living in a car, living at friends' places, changing places every two or three weeks, living in lounge rooms and living in refuges for three or four months. These people cannot get their names before the priority committee of the Department of Housing. They are being culled before the committee can determine whether they are entitled to priority housing. That is how desperate things have become.
I get very dismayed when I see that there are only 32 new dwellings in the highest area of demand in this State. The Government has budgeted for a huge surplus. I believe that it should spend more money to provide a roof over the heads of some very desperate people. I compare the Government's lack of commitment to Department of Housing dwellings in the electorate of Port Jackson with its push for the city west strategy. I approve of some aspects of the city west strategy. Overall, the fact that we have a co-ordinated approach to planning in the inner city, with respect to the Pyrmont development, is a good thing. However, in light of the fact that public housing is in great demand in the inner city, I find it incredibly disappointing that there is no commitment to affordable or public housing in either the city west strategy or the Balmain peninsula site. Recently the Minister for Planning, and Minister for Housing said that a particular court case was a great victory for urban consolidation. I see no evidence of that in the Budget. If the Government were serious about urban consolidation, it would provide a subsidy, either directly through public housing or through other creative means, to ensure that we had support for public or affordable housing in these urban renewal projects.
I do not see any commitment in the Budget to providing increased and improved infrastructure in the inner city for things such as water pipes, drains, sewerage and urban run-off. These matters will have to be addressed if there is to be urban consolidation in the inner city. I am concerned because the people who are presently moving out west to buy their first home will not be able to afford the properties being developed in the Balmain peninsula. Through no fault of their own, they are contributing to the problems of urban sprawl. If the Government were serious about urban consolidation and helping people, it would provide public housing in Balmain. It does not have to do so through a direct subsidy by creating public housing, but that is an important component. Sites could be developed by a concession being given to a developer - who is perhaps allowed slightly greater densities- - if, in return, he provides so many units of affordable housing. That is what the Leichhardt Municipal Council has done with one of the five sites in Balmain. That is the track that the Government should go down.
I refer to roads. The two major roads in the electorate of Port Jackson are federally funded; I refer to the Glebe arterial and the city west link. With respect to local roads which help the population, a paltry $600,000 has been provided for local councils to improve outdated roads, footpaths and so on. I would have been a lot happier had the Budget allocated funds for the retention of the present Glebe Island Bridge so that the local community could benefit from having a dual road system in the inner city. The city west link and the new Glebe Island Bridge will be for the benefit of metropolitan Sydney, not for the benefit of the locals. I would like to see the present Glebe Island Bridge retained, not only for historical purposes but also to provide a dual road system to service the redevelopment of Pyrmont and Ultimo. I would have been more impressed had the Budget contained funds for the realignment of The Crescent in Annandale. It is a traffic nightmare. There are more accidents there than anywhere else I can think of. That roadwork is desperately needed. It is far too expensive for the local council and will require a one-off grant by the Government.
I am disappointed also that under the environmental trusts the southern and central Sydney public health units, for the second year in a row, did not receive funding to conduct lead studies in the inner city for education and for the prevention of lead poisoning in children. I am also disappointed that there is no specific reference to Balmain Hospital and that funds are not available for it to upgrade its equipment. It has recently come to my attention that Balmain Hospital could perform many more laparoscopic cholecystotomies - that is, gall bladders removals - if it had specialised equipment. People would be able to have their gall bladders removed and go home within three or four days. They would have only a small scar incision. At present the operation involves 10 to 14 days in hospital and a fairly large incision. It is major surgery. Balmain Hospital is reduced to applying to companies which have this equipment to conduct a trial of it. When the hospital finishes trialling the equipment of one company, it returns it and then trials the equipment of another company. That is not the way to run a public hospital system. We would do well to supply hospitals such as Balmain Hospital with additional funding so that they could ease the burden on our larger hospitals.
I refer now to education. I am bitterly disappointed that the only school in the electorate of Port Jackson to receive any sort of major maintenance funding is Birchgrove Public School. Although I am very pleased for that school, I point out that just about every school in Port Jackson has either reached its centenary, is about to pass it, or passed it many years ago. In other words, their maintenance problems are quite enormous. They do not receive additional funding for maintenance; they have the same maintenance budget as a new school. That is simply not fair on schools whose plumbing,
draining and buildings date from last century. Principals have to decide whether to hire a casual teacher when someone is away, or replace a window pane. Leichhardt primary is a beautiful school; it has a National Trust listing. Every time a shingle falls off the roof it is a major effort to replace it; it is very expensive and costly to maintain a school to the National Trust standard. This is proving very difficult for schools in the inner city. I have asked the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, and Minister for Employment and Training to provide additional funding to the inner city schools so that they can be upgraded to a standard which puts them on par with newer schools. To date, the Minister has not acknowledged that desperate need. [Extension of time agreed to.
Another problem with inner city schools is that at least three of them house other education units within their campus. Darlington is the home of the school liaison unit; there are two special education IO classes at Glebe Public School; and Forest Lodge Public School has within it the campus of the Bridge Road School, a special education facility. These facilities have to be relocated. That is causing some concern, particularly at Glebe, where parents do not want to see their children with special needs - with Down's syndrome, for example - split up and sent to other schools. The parents feel that that would disrupt the learning and progress of their children. The Government closed down a number of inner city schools a couple of years ago. It is now becoming apparent that schools such as Darlington, Forest Lodge and Glebe cannot cater for local demand, and the pressure is now on those schools. I ask that the Government look at reversing some of the decisions it made early in its life. I think the demographers got it wrong; they totally underestimated the demands on those schools. Those three schools service the University of Technology, the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. It is not surprising that there is a high demand for out-of-area enrolments at those schools. The Government ought to realise that schools in the inner city have a special role. Women cannot be expected to enter the work force at places such as Prince Alfred Hospital if they cannot send their children to a school close by. The Government should recognise the special nature and geographic location of those schools in the inner city. The Government should make amends.
Another thing that has concerned me is that penny pinching within the Department of Education has meant that the number of annual choral concerts have been reduced from six to three. That will mean that 300 children will miss out on the opportunity to gain valuable performance experience. Choral concerts are the simplest way to provide children with the chance to be involved in the performing arts program of the Department of Education. Other initiatives in the department, although commendable, require much greater input and resources from the schools. Not all schools have the capacity to train children to that level, but most schools have a choir. It does not require fancy equipment, and it is something that younger children can be involved in. Other events such as the Schools Spectacular do not provide an easy forum for younger children, as they would not have reached a sufficient level of co-ordination and confidence to manage the dance routines. In last year's choral concerts, kindergarten children who had only just turned five participated in some items. They are the children who will miss out. Teachers are complaining because restrictions on numbers mean that only part of the school choir can participate, which leaves many children disappointed. I strongly believe that the performing arts program ought to be suficiently funded to ensure that it can provide for all ages, talents and disciplines. It should not be about promoting only outstanding individual talent at the expense of group performances, which allow the overwhelming majority of children to enjoy the benefits of participating. Clearly, there is a place for both.
On public transport, I am not too pleased that there is no indication in the Budget of improvements of bus services within the electorate of Port Jackson. I recently carried out a survey in my electorate, seeking answers to questions on public transport, especially on bus services. I am pleased to announce that hundreds of constituents replied; and it is amazing how consistent the complaints are. People complain about bus route No. 445 commencing in Balmain. People want an express bus from the city which first sets down at Glebe Point Road. These measures could be implemented quite easily and cheaply, yet there does not seem to be any commitment to them. I am also concerned about the future of the Leichhardt Community Transport Group. That community organisation is funded by State and Federal governments. The group provides a shopping service for people who are unable to use normal public transport routes. It has a very successful service which particularly assists the residents of Glebe, taking them shopping at Leichhardt Market Place. The round trip costs only $1. A volunteer driver helps them on board, helps them with their parcels and so on, and drops them off at their door. It is a terrific service. The problem is that the Leichhardt Community Transport Group is in desperate need of funding to replace the bus it has at present. Even though it was led to believe earlier in the year that it would be getting a new bus, that did not happen. That is a real concern. The bus is now five years old and is reaching the end of its economic life. A National Roads and Motorists Association report indicates that very soon all sorts of major and expensive breakdowns will occur, and it will cost a fortune to repair them.
The Government has been penny wise and pound foolish in not providing this group with sufficient funds to get a new bus. Demands on its services will increase when the Grace Bros store at Broadway closes. Many elderly people will be literally stranded, unable to get to a shopping centre and unable to carry their goods home. Car ownership in those older, working class, public housing communities within the inner city is very low. If those people cannot be serviced by public transport, they will have to rely on community transport such as that provided by the Leichhardt Community Transport Group. If they do not have a new bus to meet that demand, I do not know what will happen. It might not sound like an earth-shattering issue, but it is quite important to the elderly folk in public housing in Glebe. The Budget states that the Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital are to be redeveloped; but it does not say how. I hope that they will be redeveloped as hospitals and that we will not have a Whitehall next to us. I will give the Government the benefit of the doubt; I assume that they will be developed as a hospital.
There is a working party on child care in the Parliament. I put to the Government that if the hospital is to be redeveloped we have a wonderful opportunity to incorporate into it a very much needed central business district child care centre. It would be an ideal location for the child care centre that we so desperately need in Parliament House but cannot have because we have no room for it. It would be great for the nursing staff at Sydney Hospital. They keep strange hours just as we do, and it would mean that we could dovetail our needs quite well. I am certain that between Sydney Hospital, the Parliament and other bodies employing public servants in the city, we could run a profitable, quite large child care centre, which would make a great contribution to the city and would make it a lot easier for women members of Parliament and others who work in the area to provide child care for their children. I hope that the Government will look at what could be a great initiative before the building is already constructed.
(Ku-ring-gai) [9.25]: I rise to support the Budget, a budget framed with economic responsibility and political courage. It creates jobs in a responsible way without adding to Australia's debt burden. In fact, it achieves a
reduction in borrowings - a saving in interest payments that represents $30 for every man, woman and child in New South Wales. It spends on infrastructure projects of worth. In short, it is a budget which improves the quality of life for the people of Ku-ring-gai and the people of New South Wales in general.
I congratulate our Premier, and Treasurer on his first budget. I know that it will be the first of many. In doing so, and on the occasion of my first speech to the House, I pay tribute to the man whose timely and courageous reform of this State set the climate for the Budget - the present Premier's predecessor and my predecessor as the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai, the Hon. Nick Greiner. It was Nick Greiner's leadership - now carried on through the present Premier - which allows New South Wales to say truly that it is the model for other states. Nick Greiner served the people of Ku-ring-gai as their member from 1980 until his untimely exit from politics earlier this year. He served our party as leader when in opposition and took the Liberals to victory in 1988, beginning the process of reform which has placed New South Wales above any other State by any measure that one may care to name. I pay tribute to a truly great Premier. History will judge him well.
It is traditional on these occasions to say that, as an incoming member, you hope to make a similar contribution to that of your predecessor. Nick Greiner said it of his predecessor as the member for Ku-ring-gai, John Maddison. In my case, that is a very daunting prospect. But my attitude to the task ahead of me is as follows. I consider parliamentary service to be the greatest honour and privilege possible in our democracy. It brings with it great responsibility. Therefore, to be elected to serve the people of Ku-ring-gai as their local member is a great honour and a great responsibility. I intend to fulfil that responsibility with humility and in a spirit of service. I intend to serve the people of Ku-ring-gai and the people of New South Wales in whatever roles may be required of me. The standard by which I shall be judged is the standard by which I believe we shall all be judged: God's standard, exemplified in the life of Christ.
As a Christian, my ambition may be summed up in this verse from Ephesians chapter 4: "Live a life worthy of the calling you have received". I take that very broadly. I take it to mean that in everything I do, in every relationship I have, I should be the kind of person God wants me to be. God has made it possible for me to serve him as a member of Parliament. That is a vocation which is all about relationships: it is about my relationship with the people who have elected me to serve them, the people of Ku-ring-gai; it is about my relationship with honourable members from both sides; and it is about our relationship with the people of New South Wales generally. My ambition is that in all those relationships I will be worthy of the one who has called me. I believe that one of our primary responsibilities in this relationship of trust with the people is to give them a quality of life. Note that I do not say standard of living. It is much broader than that. When people talk about a standard of living, they tend to be referring to just income alone. But our responsibility runs much more broadly than that measure alone. Our responsibility is to the whole person - their well-being, their state of health, the fulfilment they get from life, whether they realise their dreams and even whether they are free to have dreams for themselves and their families.
This Budget is one which in a responsible economic framework enables us to improve the quality of life for people not just in Ku-ring-gai but around New South Wales. I would like to mention a few areas of particular interest to my electorate and of particular interest to me. First, jobs: this Budget creates 18,000 new jobs. I believe governments should create a climate in which everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential. It is one of our primary responsibilities. If we stifle potential, we stifle
the person: we are not serving them well and we are not serving society well. The 18,000 new jobs we create with this Budget represents thousands of families with new purpose, and the jobs created are in areas that provide useful infrastructure for our society, improving the quality life for everybody in New South Wales. The second area is education. This Budget continues a massive amount of spending by this Government in the education area. The total spending on education, employment and training in this Budget is almost $5 billion.
There are new skills, improved salaries for teachers, more than 10,000 extra places in TAFE colleges and an expanded job focus for training. I believe education is one of the foundations of the way that we best serve people as individuals. It is not just, as every commentator has said, the future of our nation. It is more than that. Education has a direct bearing on who we are, what our expectations are and whether we achieve our expectations. Education has a direct bearing upon our quality of life. It is an area that I will take particular interest in as member for Ku-ring-gai, an electorate with areas of young and growing population and with many vibrant schools doing marvellous work with young people. The third area I want to touch on is community services. This year's Budget provides for a community services allocation of $814 million, an increase from last year's Budget of $733 million. Care for those in need is another special responsibility of those who would govern.
If we let down people in need then we will be harshly judged indeed. Our efforts needs to be aimed at giving them back the wherewithal to live; and giving them sustenance, housing, and health services. And then our efforts need to be directed at getting people back to a situation where they can achieve for themselves. When we allow people to achieve for themselves we give them back their dignity. We allow them to look after their own families and their own responsibilities. I say again: we give them back their dignity. That is a primary responsibility of government; it has always been a primary concern of Liberal governments. This Budget, framed during a time of economic recession brought on by deliberate policy of the Federal Labor Government, is one which delivers those very services to families in need in New South Wales. I particularly commend the $10 million family support package, which is a special feature of this year's Budget.
Another area of particular interest is health, which in New South Wales under the Liberal Government has been an area of real and sustained growth, a real success story for the people of New South Wales. The responsibility of government is to provide health services for the people, and that is what this Government is doing with another record allocation of $4.63 billion for 1992-93, including a record $322 million for capital works. The focus of the health budget is to deliver quality health services for people where they are most needed. I also commend the Government's initiative to provide health services through the Port Macquarie model, which is again bound to become a model for the rest of Australia. In Port Macquarie the Government is fulfilling its responsibility to provide improved health services for the people far faster than they would otherwise would have received them. The debate on this has been hijacked by those with pure political gain in mind only. I will speak more about that kind of debate in just a moment.
The fifth area I want to touch on briefly in commending the Budget is urban infrastructure. The projects funded by this Budget return real improvements for the people of New South Wales in general and the people in my electorate in particular. For example, the Budget includes an allocation for a new bus-rail interchange at Hornsby and 200 new car parking spaces at Hornsby railway station. Together with track work and
other expenditure on the rail network in my electorate, it represents a major investment by this Government in improved public transport in Ku-ring-gai - a real achievement by the Minister for Transport. Of course, that has a direct impact on our urban environment in Sydney generally and improves the quality of life for all of us. This Budget also provides almost $5 million for road improvements in my electorate, which benefits not just people who live in Ku-ring-gai but those who travel through. I am delighted to say after just a few weeks on the job that I have been able to achieve a capital allocation of about $23 million for Ku-ring-gai - who knows what will be possible next year?
The last area I want to touch on is the environment. The electorate of Ku-ring-gai has some of the most magnificent natural environment in the entire Sydney area. My electorate contains magnificent waterways like the Hawkesbury River and marvellous bushland like the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. This natural environment co-exists with a thriving urban area. The relationship between the two needs to be carefully managed and this Budget continues that careful management of the environment for the benefit of all. It provides, for example, an upgrade of the sewerage infrastructure in areas north of Hornsby, which has direct benefit for the environment by protecting the catchment areas for the Hawkesbury River. When one of my predecessors, John Maddison, made his first speech as member for Ku-ring-gai, he spoke about the need to provide sewerage for the area. That process continues with this Budget.
We have before us a Budget that delivers improved quality of life for the people of New South Wales, made possible because the Liberal Government since l988 has had the courage to take politically hard but economically correct decisions. With this Budget New South Wales is better placed to take advantage of the national recovery, when it comes, than any other State. That is a very direct benefit to the people of New South Wales in return for the difficult times they have been through as the economy has been restructured. The fact that New South Wales is so well placed is a tribute to my predecessor as member for Ku-ring-gai, the former Premier, the Hon. Nick Greiner. But the way that politics has been played by the Opposition in New South Wales means that the man who set that standard has been hounded out of public office. And why? Because, to the Opposition, politics has become a more cynical game than ever before. It has become simply a win-at-all-costs grab for power. There would not be an honest honourable member in this House who would truly believe that Nick Greiner was a corrupt man. And yet with a finding of technical corruption against him by the Independent Commission Against Corruption - a finding later discredited by the Supreme Court - the Opposition set out to get a political scalp.
Opposition members saw the chance to manipulate honourable members of this House and public opinion for their own political gain only. I watched it occur as broadcaster and for me, at that time, they lost all credibility. I believe they have lost credibility with every thinking citizen of New South Wales. It was an example of the politics of opportunism, the politics of division, and the politics of hate. And it was the immediate impetus for my own entry into politics at this level. That sort of cynical, political game playing might be clever but it does not serve society well. That is the clear difference between us and them. That is why I joined the Liberal Party and why I could never in conscience contemplate joining the Labor Party. But cynicism and shallowness are not confined to the New South Wales Australian Labor Party. I believe it is a growing disease in our society and one which can only harm the quality of our democracy. There are those who believe that the way to success in politics is simply to tap into the anger of every dissatisfied elector, to generate more division, and to feed their cynicism and watch it grow.
Cynicism is becoming endemic in our society. In fact, our mass media has created a more aware electorate than ever before. But it is the nature of the media that complex issues are reduced to one-liners. I have been guilty of it. Every working journalist knows the frustration of trying to reduce something as complex as a State budget into a one-line summary. So the electorate is more informed than ever before but in less depth than ever before. And the way the media works in our highly competitive society is to highlight controversy, to promote conflict and to emphasise the negative. But let us not blame the media alone, because they are servicing a public which has become chronically critical. I have become very concerned, for example, at the growing number of people who listen to and propagate conspiracy theories. Swapping conspiracy stories and embellishing bigger and bigger outrages about what big brother is supposedly doing has replaced reasoned political debate. Ask any host of a talkback program. The way to rate is to nurture conspiracy theories and allow a climate where people can air their prejudices. I am sorry to say that a media executive once said to me, "The secret of success is - don't tell them what you think they need to know, tell them what they want to hear".
I rejected that as a broadcaster and I reject it as a member of Parliament. Unfortunately, there are too many people in politics who have adopted that as their creed for their own political gain. They nurture misunderstanding and they nurture mistrust in the electorate. It becomes easy then for people to hate anyone or any structure in power. They hate the bureaucracy. They hate the major political parties. They hate the Parliament. They hate the judicial system. They hate our churches. The politics of hate stands to bring down the very structures that make up society. That should be a matter of concern to every honourable member committed to a healthy democratic system in Australia. A cynical, uninformed and constantly critical electorate is not good for democracy. Healthy political debate is the cornerstone of a free society such as ours. In many countries right now people are still dying, fighting for that basic right. If people cease to care about the structures on which our democracy is built, they weaken that democracy and they weaken our society. We should not allow that to happen.
For the record then, let me spell out my own views. I refuse to be a captive to the politics of hate. I refuse to create division in society just for political gain. I refuse to build on people's misunderstanding and prejudice. I refuse to be captive to any philosophy that does not allow me to value people as individuals and care for their needs as individuals. I do not like to see people being controlled or manipulated by pressure groups or those with power, money or influence. Constituents will find that I go very cold if they try to manipulate me. I will say again: the role of government is to look after the welfare of those we seek to govern, out of service to them. It is not to manipulate their misunderstanding and prejudice for political gain. I believe the role of those who govern and those who seek to govern is to build up, not to tear down. On the occasion of my maiden speech I pledge myself to the building up of society as member for Ku-ring-gai.
In closing I wish to thank the members of the Ku-ring-gai State electorate conference of the Liberal Party and especially Niels Giddings and Ron McDuie for their encouragement, counsel and support. I also wish to thank specially the Hon. Bruce Baird and the Hon. Jim Longley for being such marvellous role models and such wonderful support. I wish to pay tribute to my wife, Georgina, who is also my best friend and who is my partner in this family vocation. Finally, Mr Acting-Speaker, through you, I wish to thank Mr Speaker and other members from both sides of the Chamber and the staff of the New South Wales Parliament for making my entry into a new and sometimes difficult world a very easy one.
(Swansea) [9.43]: I am happy to begin my speech by congratulating the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai on his first speech. I felt very warm towards him as he began because he said "first speech" rather than maiden speech. Then after uttering some very well phrased idealism he lapsed by saying "maiden speech". But I will forgive him because of the obvious sincerity of his intentions. I wish him well and I am sure he will make a very worthwhile contribution to this Parliament, and very probably future parliaments.
I turn to the budget strategy of the Government. I wish to speak mainly about my electorate and its particular problems but I cannot forbear reiterating some criticisms that have been made of the Government's budget strategy, which has been very adroitly manipulated in order to suggest that the Government is capable of the miracle of expanding the work force - and thus deserving of credit - while at the same time it is deserving of credit because it is saving the taxpayer money and reducing the deficit by reducing the number of people who work for the Government. The fact that these things are antithetical seems not to have reached the consciousness of Government speakers so far in this debate. Disappointingly, not many commentators in the media have noticed just how much contradiction is contained in this double act. In June the Premier said that there will be a period of at least a year when a freeze will be placed on any new plans to reduce the size of the New South Wales public sector. Just in case any of us thought that the new Premier was a little awkward because of the newness of his role and was putting his foot in it, we should look again at the care with which he chose those words - I could almost say the craftiness with which he chose those words.
There did not need to be any plans to reduce employment, because the Government had such a swag of old plans in its kit bag that it only had to pull them out and implement them and any number of public service jobs would disappear. I am not in favour of overmanning or a bloated government work force but it seems to me that if one is going to downsize or reduce the work force one ought to be much more straightforward about it than the Premier was when he said that for a period of at least a year there will be a freeze placed on any new plans to reduce the size of the New South Wales public sector. However, later the Premier perhaps slipped when he said, "If you are in the public sector, there are no plans and will not be any plans to cut jobs here, there or anywhere else for a period of at least one year". But his later amplification of that unwantedly frank statement, or piece of disinformation, according to one's perspective, came when he told us that there would not be any retrenchments: there would be loss of jobs by attrition and people would take voluntary redundancy but nobody would be hustled out of a job; there would be no sackings. That was the substance of what he said.
In fact, when people are confronted with the kind of pressure many people in the public sector have been confronted with they are happy to retrench themselves. The kind of psychological warfare that has been indulged in quite successfully by very psychologically skilled people has certainly been successful in convincing a considerable number of public service employees that they cannot stand the strain any longer and they had best go for a kind of dull bronze handshake. It seems to me that the Government would enlist much more of the confidence and support of the people of New South Wales were it to be more frank about what its real aims are. There has certainly been a lack of frankness when it comes to the public deficit, how much has been spent on public works and how much of the State debt is being discharged because of funds diverted to that end from the sale of the GIO. Many people have the impression that most, if not all, of the money derived from the sale of the GIO went towards settling State debt. In fact, less than a third of the money from that asset was used for that purpose.
It might be said: the member for Swansea ought to think that is pretty good, a bit of Keynesian countercyclical expenditure might be a good thing. It might be a good thing too, but it would be an even better thing if people felt that they were not going to have the wool pulled over their eyes with disingenuous statements by Ministers from the Premier down trying to get people to believe that somehow or other 18,000 jobs would be provided by this additional expenditure while the public service is downsized very considerably but those jobs and the collateral jobs that will disappear because of those "redundancies" somehow will not count. Some kind of honest accounting would serve the people of New South Wales much better. What the net job situation will be in New South Wales I do not know and the Government does not know. I do not know because the number of "voluntary" redundancies is likely to depend on just how skilful the psychological manipulations and pressures organised by the people brought into the public service to organise the downsizing will be. But certainly a lot of people will go. I can imagine that perhaps in a few months in selected circumstances the Premier and other Ministers will tell people how skilful they have been in downsizing the public sector, while on other occasions they will be talking about how clever and caring they have been in greatly increasing the number of jobs in good old Keynesian fashion by spending a lot on public works.
Some type of reconciliation of these opposing tendencies would be desirable. As to the Government's general posture of being a good manager, the ghost of Eastern Creek lives on. However, I do not want to go around that track again. I should like to mention HomeFund. There is an old saying about the inadvisability of borrowing short and lending long. There is a relationship between borrowing and lending, but any kind of rational relationship between the two was thrown to the winds in the orgy of lending by HomeFund. It was something of a scandal when the Government found that the chief executive of HomeFund was being paid an obscene salary. That happened merely because, like many salesmen before him, he was being paid in effect on commission. The more money lent, the more money he made. The Government had such a good grasp of administration - or a bad policy, but it has not acknowledged that - that the HomeFund lending, at a time when prudence would have indicated otherwise, was expanded several times beyond what, by any sense of the imagination, could have been considered sensible.
HomeFund has now lent huge amounts to people who are subject to very high interest rates. The Government has declared that, because these people received the money from bonds, they will be forced to pay a certain interest rate for years and nothing can be done about it. It is difficult but by no means impossible for the Government to do more than it has done. It is difficult for the Government to redress the situation completely because of its initial error, incompetence and amazing belief that somehow it would all work out in the long run. The Government certainly did not hit a home run with the grossly inflated expansion of HomeFund lending. There are many sick and sorry people in New South Wales and many people in co-operative building societies who have found that their lives have been made a misery as a result of having been severely pressured, stood over and terrorised, in effect, to forego food if necessary to keep up their HomeFund payments.
The Government's claimed management skills have not been demonstrated in the way the Hunter Area Health Service has operated. The John Hunter Hospital was opened before the election with great fanfare; it was a great election gimmick. It was said that the hospital was opened because the earthquake had destroyed beds in Newcastle. At the time that seemed reasonable. The earthquake and the subsequent early opening of the John Hunter Hospital and so on created circumstances in which the most careful kind of
management was necessary. The Government was gung-ho to introduce some of its new whiz bang ideas about privatisation. A new linen cleaning service, which it was intended would save a great deal of money, was introduced. In fact the firm concerned, Brambles, has been cleaning, in round figures, about half the quantity of linen that was presupposed when the contract was signed, at a great and continuing loss to the taxpayers of New South Wales.
The central goods agency in the Hunter Area Health Service was to be the dispenser of goods to the various units within that service. It was envisaged that individual hospitals would not do that purchasing. However, those hospitals often did the purchasing. It is all very well for the Government and the present administrator to say: "Heck, the managers were no damn good. The Hunter Area Health Service board was no good; we have sacked them". Who chose the board of the Hunter Area Health Service? Who reappointed the chief executive officer of the board of the Hunter Area Health Service? The Government did the choosing, but exercised no supervision at all. It did not accept any vicarious responsibility whatsoever. I do not know what has happened to the doctrine of ministerial responsibility. It has been attenuated by the Government in this and other spheres to such a degree that the Minister is present for the photographic opportunities and the nice one-liners when things go well, but public servants, some of them no doubt exceedingly well paid if they are in the senior executive service, are there to deliver the bad news when things go wrong.
Bad policies certainly tend to promote bad administration. That has certainly happened in the Hunter area in regard to health. The closure of Wallsend hospital happened so peremptorily and in such an extraordinarily gross fashion as to create all sorts of difficulties and concerns not only in the community immediately adjacent to it but throughout the Hunter area. The lack of adequate ambulance services in the Central Coast Area Health Service is an absolute scandal. It is just not good enough to say, "We are working on it". In the coming year the number of people in the Ambulance Service will decrease. It is difficult to match that with the suggestion that there will be a much-needed improvement in ambulance services provided not only to the Central Coast but also to the Hunter area.
People in the Hunter and Central Coast regions are concerned that some kind of covert planning is taking place to amalgamate those two health services without any consultation and without any clear rationale for the move. That kind of anxiety certainly does not increase people's confidence in their health service or in the performance of this Government. The Government has done many things that have not pleased everyone, and no doubt some of the hard decisions it has had to make have been justified. I am willing to concede that. We are in a time of recession, but the closing down of the design office of the Roads and Traffic Authority at Newcastle was scandalous in its incompetence. That office operated with remarkable efficiency and it seems clear to me that it was closed as an alleged cost saving measure. A most efficient unit of government production has been destroyed and no doubt the private sector replacements will cost taxpayers a great deal more. The move of the Roads and Traffic Authority regional office to Port Macquarie was tied to the little bump they are going to get in Port Macquarie when they have a private hospital forced on them as a monopoly. Those things have to be made up for in some way. One of those ways - no doubt there will be a few other little bits and pieces - was the removal of the Roads and Traffic Authority regional office from Newcastle where it functioned not only efficiently but also in the best interests of all people, including those in Port Macquarie, a National Party electorate where the Government is trying to win a few partisan votes.
I appreciate the money that has been devoted in the Budget to the very substantial renovation, virtual rebuilding, of Munmorah primary school and I welcome the promise that that will occur at Mannering Park primary school a year hence. I am concerned that, despite considerable expenditure on maintenance at Belmont High School, there remain many things which should not be tolerated in any high school in New South Wales. I hope to deal with those matters in more detail at the local level. In my electorate of Swansea I have frequently found that people need legal aid but are not receiving it. The constraints placed upon the provision of legal aid are so tight that many deserving cases do not get justice because they do not receive legal aid. That also applies to people who seek the services of the Ombudsman. I do not accuse that office of any lack of efficiency; I accuse the Government of continuing to starve the Ombudsman's office of adequate resources to enable it to ensure that justice is done and that government is operated in an efficient, as well as fair, manner.
The scandal of the Victims Compensation Tribunal, its desperation to save money because it does not have enough funds to deal with the problems that come before it, is manifest in some of the desperate cases I have encountered in my electorate. In terms of management, I would like to refer to the fact that a substantial proportion of the money paid out by the Victims Compensation Tribunal has been to members of the Police Service. Not for one moment do I say that members of the New South Wales Police Service should miss out on any kind of assistance they require if they have been injured in the line of duty. But the Victims Compensation Tribunal needs to be organised in such a way that there is not this quite unexpected and unanticipated proportion of its funds going to assist police injured in the line of duty. The Government does not appear to have been in the least aware that that was happening; nor does it appear to have taken any action to prevent it happening by ensuring in other ways that the police concerned received the assistance that they required and deserve. We have a state of complete confusion. It may be a lack of communication between the Minister for Police Mr Pickering - at least until midnight - and the Commissioner of Police that has caused the problem but the Government has to take responsibility for this piece of gross mismanagement. [Time expired
(Northcott - Minister for Transport, and Minister for Tourism) [10.3]: The Budget that has been brought down clearly demonstrates the direction in which the Government is proceeding. The Government is continuing the economic reforms that have been achieved since it came to office in 1988. The Government is not only doing that, but is also embarking on a large capital works program which will create 18,000 new jobs in New South Wales at a time of severe economic recession produced by the Federal Labor Government. If anything, the recession has demonstrated the ineptitude of the Federal Labor Government. Honourable members need only to observe how early that Government brought us into this recession and how it has no idea of how to take us out of it. The lives of many people have been devastated and destroyed by that Government's total incompetence in managing the economy. Year after year the recession continues, with the Prime Minister suggesting we are about to turn the corner - some time, somewhere. He does not know in what way to address the issues, still he treads on. The result is that many thousands of people are unemployed in New South Wales; businesses have been destroyed for ever; and families are substantially affected, because not only are straight economic effects involved, but tensions are created within the family structure. It is important to recognise that in New South Wales the Government is instituting the reforms that are producing results, and also it is putting money into real jobs and not the make-believe jobs of the Federal Government, which have no long life to them.
I direct my attention now to the transport portfolio. In New South Wales many reforms have been achieved which other States have yet to embark on. The Government of Victoria is spending many hundreds of millions of dollars more than New South Wales in running the transport system, yet Victoria is one-third less than the size of New South Wales. The railway system in Victoria is covered with graffiti, trains do not run on time and the transport system is very cost inefficient. New South Wales has taken the initiative. It is in the reform of government trading enterprises that our Government has been able to produce the bonuses that have assisted in the management of the 1992-93 Budget. Overall the deficit is down on last year's figure, despite the fact that the Federal Government deficit continues to balloon to extraordinarily high figures. It is $13 billion. The Federal Government says, "It does not matter. Shall we make it $15 billion". On and on it goes. The Government of New South Wales is on a path of reducing the deficit. In the midst of an economic recession New South Wales has a lower deficit in real terms than in 1987-88. That highlights the way New South Wales is being managed. It is the reform of the government trading enterprises that makes the difference. The several hundred million dollars less each year that we are receiving from the Federal Government is very significant. Added to that is the impact on the property market, with loss of revenue from land tax and stamp duties; New South Wales is down in funding by something of the order of $900 million.
It is the reform of the government trading enterprises that makes the difference in regard to the extra $1 billion which will be gained in dividends. When we came to office the figure was $100 million; in this financial year it will be $1 billion. Tough decisions have been made. Many people on this side of the House have had to bear those tough decisions and have gone out and argued for them. The benefits of those tough decisions can be seen now. In the past four years a reform process has been set in motion in the transport portfolio. I am pleased to advise that in the next financial year costs will be down but services and capital investment up. The increase in productivity and efficiency gains are there to be seen. Net government contributions in real terms have fallen from $1,188.86 million in 1987-88 to $896.65 million in 1991-92. That is a saving of $292.03 million on 1987-88 figures, an accumulated saving over the four-year period to the Consolidated Fund of $796.38 million. The total operating cost of the agencies within the transport portfolio has fallen in real terms from about $2.9 billion to $2.3 billion in 1991-92, a real saving of $594 million on 1987-88 figures; and an accumulated real saving of $1.5 million. Those are real benefits, real gains which can be put into other areas of the transport portfolio. It is not as if the Government is neglecting the portfolio, because it has achieved the best on-time running performance in State Rail and the general standard of the service has improved. Despite that, State Rail is operating with almost half the number of employees that it had when this Government came to office.
Real savings are being passed on. Total savings in operating costs in the transport portfolio have been passed on to taxpayers of New South Wales through the reduction in net government contributions. Since 1987-88 Freight Rail's wheat rates have been reduced by 12.6 per cent, and coal rates by 17.7 per cent. Maritime Services Board port charges were reduced by 4 per cent in 1991-92. Since 1987-88 fare increases for commuters have been kept at or below consumer price index levels. In Victoria fares were increased by more than 30 per cent in one year, yet in this State they have been kept in line with the consumer price index figures. Since 1987-88 the outlay on free school student travel has increased by $51.4 million to meet the increased demand for services. The rural cash operating costs of the State Rail Authority in 1991-92 were $432 million less in real terms than they were in 1987-88. In the past four years $1.2 billion of accumulated savings in State Rail's operating costs were passed on to New South Wales taxpayers and customers of State Rail.
The transport reform strategy has realised continuing improvements in productivity, which is a standard measure by which to assess the efficiency of government trading enterprises. Productivity in the Maritime Services Board has risen by 24.6 per cent per employee since 1991, an increase of 66.2 per cent since 1987-88. Since 1990-91 the productivity of the State Transit Authority has risen by 8 per cent and since 1987-88 it has increased by 35 per cent. Similarly, the productivity of CityRail has increased by 38.6 per cent since 1987-88 and Freight Rail has increased by 53 per cent since 1987-88. These dramatic increases in productivity have occurred across the board. The Maritime Services Board is to pay to the Government a record dividend of $35 million from its commercial operations for 1991-92. When this Government first came to office the board had significant financial problems. The 1992-93 State Rail Authority budget continues the Government's strategy of increased capital works and lower recurrent costs. Capital works expenditure for 1992-93 will be a record $693 million, yet total government contributions to the State Rail Authority will be reduced by $17 million to $478 million. This is a real reduction in current outlays of 6.3 per cent over that of last year and brings the savings achieved by this Government to $243 million per annum.
Reductions in the funding needs of the State Rail Authority for the past five budgets have made a vital contribution to the Government's budget strategy. They have allowed debt to be contained and resources to be redirected into productive, job-creating capital investment. The 1992-93 capital works program of the State Rail Authority again strikes a careful balance between upgrading the fundamentals of the rail system and providing a better passenger environment. Though costs have been contained, the Government has improved the overall infrastructure for which it receives no political gain and has provided a better passenger environment. The sum of $28 million will be spent on station upgrading and $7 million will be spent on the first stage of the upgrading of silver double-decker carriages. New Tangara, XPT and Xplorer rolling-stock will be delivered and $20 million will be spent on construction of the new Endeavour diesel rail cars for the Southern Highlands, South Coast and Hunter regions. The Budget reaffirms the Government's commitment to extending electrification of the South Coast line, with $300,000 allocated to design work on the Dapto to Kiama section. Statewide, $216 million will be spent on track and signal upgrading, which will deliver a more reliable and efficient service to all State Rail customers. When this Government came to office the track and signalling systems had major deficiencies which this Government is addressing in a significant way.
The Government's microeconomic reform program is ongoing. Private sector involvement will continue in 1992-93, with progress on the airport rail link and other projects, and construction of locomotives under the power-by-the-hour service contract will commence. Other microeconomic reforms include the transfer of responsibility for rail safety regulation from the State Rail Authority to the Department of Transport, and the continued development of the community services obligation contract which forms the basis for the provision of all non-commercial services to the community. The 1992-93 capital works budget for the transport portfolio is $809 million, of which $50.6 million will be used in the construction of projects for the benefit and encouragement of commuters. The innovative car parking space levy imposed on all commercial and office parking spaces in the central business districts of Sydney and North Sydney will go directly to public transport facilities. Park and ride commuter car parking is a key government initiative. Under the levy 2,000 car parking spaces will be built at Gordon, Hornsby, Sutherland, Richmond and Glenfield, which undoubtedly the honourable member for Sutherland, who has been behind the whole development of this concept, endorses fully. Sutherland is a key station in the rail network. I am sure all honourable members would approve of the way in which the Government is encouraging people to leave their cars at railway stations and use public transport.
The urban public transport program is designed to construct projects that will benefit commuters directly and encourage the use of public transport. Under the urban public transport parkways program a further 1,400 parking spaces will be provided at Penrith, Seven Hills, Gosford and Thornleigh. The bus rail interchange program will continue with projects being completed and commenced at Strathfield, Hornsby, St Marys, Liverpool, Gosford, Sutherland and Penrith. Special bus-only lanes and bus-only signals will be part of the bus priority measures to be introduced to ease congestion at bottle-necks where buses are delayed frequently. The commuter tunnel, linking country and city platforms, at Central station will be completed. Vital flood prevention drainage works will commence on private properties in the Clifton-Austinmer region adjacent to the CityRail line. Electrification of the South Coast line from Wollongong to Dapto will be completed. Funding of the Government's non-urban transport program will increase overall. As a further demonstration of the Government's commitment to rural New South Wales, the Department of Transport will seek advice from councils and local transport operators for additional projects to be included in the rural program. Increased funding will allow the non-urban public transport program to become an ongoing program. A total of 20 new projects will expand transport facilities in rural New South Wales. New projects will include a new coach terminal at Orange, bus-rail interchanges at Maitland and Muswellbrook, and coach terminals at Forster and Glen Innes.
Under the school student transport budget for 1992-93, an amount of $234.8 million has been allocated. Over the five years to 1991-92 there has been a 29 per cent real increase in the cost of free school student travel. During the period to 1994-95 a further $35 million real spending increase in scheme payments is forecast. Against this background the school student transport scheme is being reviewed by the Public Accounts Committee. In 1992-93 the sum of $13.141 million - an increase of 6.9 per cent in funding for community transport services for the frail, aged and disabled - will facilitate the maintenance of all existing approved services, continued growth in new services and the expansion of existing services. This includes the taxi transport subsidy scheme and payments under the home and community care program. Other major developments in this area include the revision of the taxi transport subsidy scheme, greater emphasis on fraud detection and control, while improving the scheme's administrative efficiency, and the development of improved accountability requirements for the home and community program and the New South Wales community transport program projects to ensure appropriate expenditure of funding consistent with grant guidelines. Finally, there is continued commitment to late night bus services. In the next financial year funding of $3.5 million will continue for late night bus services. These services continue to carry large numbers of people and provide greater passenger security and safety than the late night train services that they replaced.
The operating performance of the Maritime Service Board for 1991-92 showed a surplus of $78.2 million, an increase of more than 30.1 per cent over the preceding year. With respect to labour productivity, revenue per employee increased by 24.6 per cent and hours lost through industrial disputes decreased by 16.4 per cent during 1991-92. The Maritime Services Board will contribute a dividend of $35 million to the Government based on its operating performance for 1991-92. This dividend represents an increase of $5 million over the preceding financial year. In 1992-93, consideration will be given to increasing the autonomy of the three major port authorities under the Maritime Services Board. During 1992-93 the board will spend $28.7 million on capital works, new works and works in progress. [Extension of time agreed to.
The allocation for 1992-93 represents an increase of $7.6 million over the board's actual capital works expenditure for the past financial year. The major components of the 1992-93 capital works expenditure include the upgrading of navigation aids for port and waterways users, environmental works to help prevent beach erosion and waterway pollution, dredging work to improve efficiency of the Port Kembla coal loader, upgrading of the Sydney Cove passenger terminal, and installing a radar system to improve port safety around Botany Bay. The Government will pay the Waterways Authority a community services obligation of $1.8 million during 1992-93 for harbour cleaning and sewage pump-out activities.
The community services obligation reimburses the Waterways Authority for the provision of services required by the community, which would not be performed commercially. The community services obligation also enhances accountability because it is funded through the Budget, rather than through cross-subsidies. The composition of the community services obligation is as follows: cleaning of Sydney Harbour, $1.7 million; sewage pump-out in Sydney Harbour, $70,000; sewage pump-out in Myall Lakes, $70,000; and sewage pump-out in Lake Macquarie, $5,000. The community services obligation is about improving the quality of our waterways, particularly the harbour. There is a strong environmental emphasis within the Maritime Services Board.
With respect to the State Transit Authority, there has been a 20 per cent increase in capital works. In 1992-93, the State Transit Authority will spend $36.6 million on capital works. This 20 per cent increase over last year will help the State Transit Authority to continue to modernise its fleet and improve services, while increasing efficiency. This increased efficiency and productivity will allow continued job creating capital investment. The highlight of this program is the purchase of 50 new diesel-powered, 65-seat, air-conditioned buses and refurbishment of existing buses at a cost of $7.3 million. The State Transit Authority has a young fleet. These new buses will be put on line to provide an increasing level of service.
The State Transit Authority will also spend $11.1 million on four new RiverCat vessels to operate on the Parramatta River. The fast new commuter service between Parramatta and the city is expected to begin in 1993, when the river dredging and wharf construction are completed. Despite the knocking from the Labor Party, particularly the honourable member for Parramatta and the honourable member for Drummoyne, this is becoming a reality. After 100 years there will be a ferry service along the Parramatta River. It will provide a first-rate transport link of which every member of the House can be proud. We will have low-wash and high-speed vessels. I am sure it will revolutionise the thinking of a number of people who take the ferry service along that waterway. In addition, the introduction of ticket-issuing machines on State Transit Authority buses will be completed at a cost of $3.9 million. These machines had to be introduced because the previous Labor Government brought in low-budget, faulty equipment, which had to be completely replaced with new equipment. The new machines will improve revenue collection and eliminate fraud. The strategic investment outlined above will be crucial for State Transit Authority to maintain and improve the strong performance delivered during the past 12 months and confirms the Government's commitment to providing high-quality public transport for Sydney and Newcastle bus and ferry commuters.
Overall the net Government contribution has declined to $167.7 million in 1992-93. This brings the real saving to the Government to $73 million per annum since 1987-88, even though more, new buses are on the road. The buses are operating with fewer people, because previously they were considerably overstaffed. A contract between the State Transit Authority and the Department of Transport has been developed for
community service obligations which is the basis for the provision of non-commercial services to the community. Other capital works outlays for ferry operations include $300,000 for the provision of safe and comfortable waiting rooms at Manly wharf; and $300,000 for pontoons at Manly and Circular Quay, which I am sure you, Mr Acting- Speaker, and your constituents will welcome, to provide a high level of service for ferry commuters from your electorate to the city. I am sure that you have welcomed the excellent performance of the JetCats on the Manly service. An amount of $1.08 million has been allocated for the upgrading of the ferry fare collection system and for improved signage and information for passengers.
The Government continues to support the rural community through the funding of non-commercial rural rail services. In 1992-93 this support amounts to $301 million; $75 million is provided to meet the costs of CountryLink's extensive rail and coach network, of which about $10 million will be used for the provision of coach services. The Government is also providing $77 million to fund CountryLink capital works, including the purchase of XPT and Xplorer trains. This project has had the support of the hardworking honourable member for Ballina. He has observed the construction of the mock-ups of the XPT and Xplorer trains. He knows the benefits of the rail reforms to New South Wales, as does the honourable member for Albury.
Mr D. L. Page:
People are looking forward to their arrival.
I am sure they are. The rural transport program provides funding to projects which address the needs of commuters in local areas. Government funding for the rural transport program will be $800,000 for the 1992-93 financial year, from a total allocation of $2.9 million. The Government, under the home and community care program, has allocated recurrently $3.66 million for the 1992-93 financial year to enable 82 community transport projects to provide services in rural areas of the State. An amount of $336,000 has been allocated to 13 community transport projects. As the honourable member for Ballina, the honourable member for Albury, the honourable member for Monaro, and the honourable member for Lismore know, the Government is committed to rural transport services. The Government is investing in new capital works. A new XPT train will provide a direct service between Sydney and Melbourne - I am sure the honourable member for Albury would approve of that. The new high standard Xplorer trains will operate to Armidale. There will be an increase in the CountryLink operations. Despite the protests of the Labor Party, these changes and cost reductions are being turned into real benefits in capital works, which is significant for those who use public transport in rural New South Wales.
Transport related programs for young people have an allocation of $204.5 million, representing 7.8 per cent of the total youth budget. People with disabilities have been allocated $5.7 million for the taxi transport subsidy scheme, up from $4.8 million in 1991-92. That scheme provides half taxi fares for eligible people with a severe disability. An amount of $310,000 of the State Transit Authority capital works funding has been allocated to make buses and ferries more secure and accessible for less mobile passengers. I am sure we would all support these moves to make our transport facilities more accessible to those with disabilities. There is an allocation of $1.5 million for the State Rail Authority to upgrade stations, incorporating easy access features for customers with limited mobility.
Finally, on the environment, vessel waste control regulations for Sydney Harbour came into effect on 1st January, 1992, for commercial vessels and 1st July, 1992, for recreational vessels. This was an area in which the previous Premier had quite a vision
of improving the quality and cleanliness of water in Sydney Harbour, which is undoubtedly the prime asset of this city. A $460,000 sewage portable toilet and galley waste receival station was constructed at Pyrmont. Three further stations costing $400,000 will be operational by late 1992. The Maritime Services Board Waterways Authority is funding the operation of a sewage, pump-out barge on the Myall Lakes at a cost of $60,000 per year. In addition, upgrading of shore facilities at Myall Lakes is in progress at a cost of $150,000. The MSB Waterways Authority is retrieving rubbish from Sydney Harbour waters at an annual cost of $1.8 million as a community service obligation. Twice-yearly clean-up programs have also been implemented at Pittwater and on the Hawkesbury and Georges rivers in conjunction with local councils. This successful program will be continued throughout 1992-93.
Across New South Wales $6.15 million has been allocated to 110 community-based projects to provide transport services to people unable to use mainstream public transport. This is under the home and community care program. Across New South Wales $854,000 has been allocated to 30 community-based projects to provide a range of transport services to people who are disadvantaged in their access to conventional public transport. Our significant microeconomic programs have been continued across the portfolio. We are reducing in a very major way the cost of operating the State Rail Authority, the State Transit Authority and the Maritime Services Board. These benefits directly flow on to the taxpayers of New South Wales. It enables funds which would otherwise be diverted simply to providing funds for overstaffing in the State Rail Authority and other areas to go to the much needed areas of health, law and order, schools and building roads, which is something we all approve of.
We have seen a rapid increase in the level of productivity within government trading enterprises, particularly in transport, and the benefits of these real reductions in recurrent expenditure. These benefits are passed on through capital works expenditure, which will result in the funding of a further 18 double-decker Tangara trains, more Xplorer trains introduced next year, sleeper trains, XPT trains, a continuing of the multi-million dollar signalling and overhead wiring program and the introduction of new computer-based systems for information gathering. There will be a $28 million increase in the amount provided for station upgrading, both in the city and in the country. It will also see further electrification on the South Coast, as the honourable member for Ballina has pointed out. It will provide for the area of Queanbeyan new Xplorer trains. It will also provide four new high speed ferries to travel down the Parramatta River, on which we will continue the dredging program. Parramatta, for the first time in 100 years, will have a ferry service. We will continue the environmental programs within the MSB for the collection of waste and sewage from our harbour and waterways, and we will continue to have care and compassion for those less able than ourselves by providing access to public transport facilities. We continue our program of rail reform. There is no doubt that we lead Australia not only in rail reform but in providing a first-class level of service for public transport users.
(Fairfield) [10.33]: The first Budget of the Premier, and Treasurer not only continues in the same direction as that of his predecessor but also shows the same sterile approach to the governance of New South Wales which is the hallmark of the Greiner era. Whilst there has been a total preoccupation with the financial management of the State, this is belied by the Premier's predisposition towards excesses - be they speedways, excessive expenditure on consultants or excessive expenditure through the ongoing restructuring that takes place in just about every government department of authority - and in reality we see nothing but extreme waste and anything but the virtuous financial responsibility which the Premier would have us believe
has been exercised in this State. Contrasting with the outward face of prudent management which the Government would have us believe, the record of the Government is quite dismal when it comes to the prudent financial management of this State. In short, the Government, through its ideologically accepted agenda, has become trapped into policies which are, at best, shortsighted and, at worst, downright destructive to the fabric of the State.
In this Budget the Government sets the parameters with a fixed constraint and without any long-term planning on the effects of its policies. One thing this Government has failed to realise is the actual state of not only the Australian economy but the world economy. It fails to acknowledge that Australia - in fact the whole world - has experienced a series of what have been termed asset deflations. This has resulted in an extended recession in Australia and is causing enormous problems overseas. Indeed, it is fair to say that in many overseas countries, particularly the developed countries, the situation is far worse in terms of unemployment and the level of economic activity than in Australia. The Government seems to hold up the United Kingdom as being the paragon of financial virtue. Its economy has had negative growth for six quarters and is in a far worse state than the Australian economy. However, the Government, keen to lay the blame on the Federal Government, is ignoring factors which go beyond the shores of Australia, for example, asset deflation. The strategy of the New South Wales Government merely exacerbates the situation and commits New South Wales to a position where any economic recovery will lag well behind not only the world but other States in Australia.
A lower level of unemployment was once a proud boast of the former Premier. Recent figures show that unemployment in New South Wales has now increased such that the situation in New South Wales is close approaching that of the worst States in Australia rather than the best. If we consider that in light of the participation rate in New South Wales, we have one of the worst records of employment in the State. The Government preaches the economic virtues of its approach, but ignores and refuses to adopt the kind of strategy which is absolutely essential if New South Wales is to benefit from a recovery in the Australian - indeed, world - economy. Businesses and individuals with a substantial level of debt will have to commit the bulk of their revenue to reducing the level of debt. If that sounds similar to the strategy of the New South Wales Government, it is not only a strategy that has been adopted by government but also one adopted by businesses and individuals. When that results in a downsizing of the operations of government, reductions in staff numbers and reductions in the services purchased by governments, the individual companies which supply those services have to contract and ultimately the economy will continue to retract as a result of that.
I will illustrate the strategy of the Government in two separate areas. On the revenue side, I will consider the levying of dividends on government trading enterprises, which illustrates the actions of the Government in using government trading enterprises as a taxing mechanism without considering the full impact on the enterprises or on the economic well-being of the State. On the expenditure side, I will consider the provision of resources to assist industry. As with the present process of levying dividends on government trading enterprises, it will be seen that the Government's policies do little more than pursue expenditure savings at the cost of an effective strategy for industry development in the State.
I now wish to illustrate and comment upon the provision for Fairfield electorate capital works, which are essential for economic recovery in this State. The payment of dividends by public authorities has been at the forefront of public and government
concern in New South Wales since 1986, when the former Labor Government undertook to levy dividends on government trading enterprises. That issue was the subject of examination by the Public Accounts Committee and its report issued this year on the interaction between Treasury, which sets dividend levels, and government trading enterprises, with recommendations on dividend assessment. As this process was commenced under the former Labor Government, I would have to stress that the Opposition does not object in principle to the levying of dividends. I shall examine some of the benefits that accrue to a government from the levying of dividends. The Premier, and Treasurer suggested in his Budget Speech that dividend contributions rose from $129 million in 1987-88 to $980 million this year, increasing from less than 1 per cent of revenue to more than 5 per cent of State Government receipts. In that five-year period dividends received from government trading enterprises have made most significant contributions to this State's receipts. Dividends paid by the Electricity Commission increased from $1.5 million in 1986-87 to $185 million in 1990-91. As the Minister suggested, dividend payments from the Maritime Services Board increased from $14 million in 1986-87 to $35 million.
An essential point of the Fahey Government's Budget rests on proceeds from the sale of the GIO. The Opposition argued consistently in Parliament that its support for that sale would be based on an assessment of whether the sale price would exceed the retention value. In 1986-87 dividends received from the GIO amounted to $45 million; in 1988-89 that sum rose to nearly $106 million; in 1989-90 the figure was $99 million, and in 1990-91 it reached $108 million. During the previous three years the GIO had paid an average dividend to the Government of more than $100 million per year. In terms of savings to the State through debt repayment, given the rates applying at the time, it could not be said that the sale of the GIO has resulted in any benefit to the State apart from any political benefit that the Government might have derived. Given the level of GIO dividends during the previous three years, the retention value obviously was quite high and the sell off will not necessarily bring long-term benefit for the people of New South Wales.
Payment of dividends should be considered other than as a raiding of hollow logs or, described in other terms, the looting of authorities' funds in ways similar to the despoliation of the tombs of the pharaohs. Revenue in the form of dividends raised from the surplus of instrumentalities significantly empowers the Parliament. Those funds are subject to the management of instrumentalities while within the control of those bodies but once paid as dividends become part of the general revenue of New South Wales and subject to the discretionary powers of Parliament. The Minister for Transport and Minister for Tourism said that community service obligations should also be considered when levying dividends. The obligation to pay dividends places greater emphasis on specifying contractual arrangements that need to be struck by government trading enterprises to fulfil community service obligations. Members of Parliament and citizens of New South Wales will thus gain a broader appreciation of the functions of government trading enterprises and the way in which they carry out their obligations.
The Public Accounts Committee recommended that Treasury prepare detailed publications setting out criteria for the selection of authorities required to pay dividends. I note that the Public Accounts Committee examined authorities such as the Zoological Parks Board, the Conservatorium of Music and others included in the schedule that would not necessarily be regarded as authorities necessarily suitable for the levying of dividends. Other recommendations included a requirement for giving adequate notice to authorities. In many cases it was necessary for authorities levied late in the day to rearrange their finances at short notice. Given that circumstance, arrangements those authorities may
make may not be effective long term and borrowings they are required to undertake may be costly. It is essential that authorities have more timely information on dividends which need to be levied. Adequate consultation between the Treasury and authorities is essential in view of future liquidity and capital requirements when determining the amount of dividend to be levied. Government authorities, unlike private companies, lack the ability and opportunity to engage in long-term planning and dividend assessment. If the dividend is levied externally this restricts the opportunity for the authorities to plan adequately for their liquidity and capital requirements. [Extension of time agreed to.
The levying of dividends will be an important part of State Government revenues well into the future. It clearly shows the benefit of government trading enterprises. In addition to the services they provide they also can provide dividends to the people of New South Wales. Industry development seems to be of no concern to the Government. The Government has put out numerous glossy publications suggesting that confidence creates jobs. The only confidence involved could be that the publications represent a confidence trick. The estimates in the Budget set out a contraction of funds for industry development. Aside from additional funds for the National Industry Extension Service there is an overall reduction of more than $1 million - from $58 million to just on $57 million. The actual expenditure last year was $5 million less than the amount allocated. The Government has no agenda or policy in this field; it simply seeks to vacate this all important area. The Government may seek to point out some of the failures that have occurred in industry assistance in other States. However, it overlooks the way in which industry assistance has been used in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Government assistance to industry is a key part of industry development, particularly for small business, and jobs growth. The Government has cut back in areas that could create jobs, providing fewer opportunities and fewer forms of assistance to firms. That is a disgrace. In the long term the Government will suffer as a result of its lack of support and the resulting continuing decline of industry.
Finally, I should like to touch on an issue which is of great concern to me and which arises from the allocations in the Budget. I refer to roads, and one road in particular in the Fairfield electorate, The Horsley Drive, which is rated by the National Roads and Motorists Association as the second worst road in the State. If the NRMA had another look at it, I think it would be re-rated as the worst. I was disappointed to note that in this Budget there is a allocation under the 3 x 3 program of $636,000 to rehabilitate selected sections of The Horsley Drive from the Hume Highway to Polding Street North. I do not begrudge that allocation but I want to place on record what it means to the people of Fairfield. The suggestion that all The Horsley Drive needs is the rehabilitation of selected sections of pavement can only suggest that this Government has no intention of substantially upgrading The Horsley Drive at all. It is one of the most congested and dangerous roads in Sydney. Anyone who listens to the morning traffic reports on any radio station would hear about some traffic problem or accident on some part of The Horsley Drive.
The Horsley Drive must now be rated as the worst road in the State. But the Government proposes merely to put another coat of tar over the top of it. No realigning work will be done. In that regard I refer particularly to the rail overbridge at Carramar. No work is to be done on widening the sections of the road over Burns Creek. No work is to be done to upgrade the important east-west link through the city of Fairfield. The only improvement that is suggested is a set of traffic lights at the intersection of Mitchell Street. That is important because of the development of the Heiden Park aged persons hostel and the movement of Fairfield community health services to that location. The work to be done will result in a small improvement but, as I say, it is a great
disappointment to me that, despite the promises that were made as far back as 1984 to carry out essential works to upgrade The Horsley Drive, the work to be done is of a nature which suggests that it will be a long while before The Horsley Drive is substantially upgraded. For the people of New South Wales this Budget is nothing to celebrate. Ultimately the Government will be condemned for the results of this Budget.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Armstrong.
House adjourned at 10.58 p.m.