BUDGET ESTIMATES AND RELATED PAPERS
Financial Year 1991-92
Debate resumed from 19th November.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY
[10.50]: Before I continue my remarks on this year's Budget, I should like to bring to the attention of the House two pieces of information relating to the portion of my remarks on the Budget which deals with health. Last week when I was speaking on the Budget I criticised the health allocations. I criticised particularly the number of hospital beds to be cut by the Government. At that time I was not aware of a particular service to be cut - the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
sleep disorders unit. The cutting of that service is relevant to what I said last week. Many members of this Chamber and members of the public may possibly think that a sleep disorders unit would not have a very high priority in terms of health care.
Attention has been focused on the sleep disorders unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital because of the cuts being ordered by the Government. According to Professor Colin Sullivan, 35 beds in surgical and medical wards will be closed. As he is in charge of the sleep disorders unit, he is the person from whom advice should be sought as it is obvious that he would know what he is talking about. He believes that the cutting of 35 beds in surgical and medical wards will seriously undermine the care of patients with respiratory failure, cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or sleep apnoea, a disease of heavy snorers. At the beginning of this month 17 beds used by his unit had already been closed. The reason the closures will cause danger to patients in the sleep disorders unit is that they will prevent adequate patient care as night monitoring of patients could not be carried out. Professor Sullivan put it in these words:
This closure is a disaster for us. We need to have the area for managing patients' breathing at night . . . [Patients are] on treatment devices that require supervision, so it's not possible to manage them at a remote location.
He went on to explain:
That is the one at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital:
- is unique - there is none other like it in Australia.
. . . it seems rather stupid to put at risk such a facility which really has national importance.
I believe it is important to place those remarks on the record because the closures seem to me to be indicative of what the Government is now trying to do, and that is to cut costs in every possible way. The cuts are being made on behalf of the Government and the two relevant Ministers by bureaucrats who do not understand the significance of the types of beds being closed. Because of the air pollution summit that was held earlier this year, at the instigation I may say of the Premier of this State, it has been well documented that more people in New South Wales now suffer from respiratory disorders, in particular asthma, than ever before.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan:
And mostly in the western suburbs.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY:
And mostly in the western suburbs, as the Hon. J. F. Ryan has said. If they are to receive specialist treatment, it will possibly be necessary for them to attend a specialist unit, even if that specialist unit is not in the western suburbs. As I said last week, there is absolutely no point in closing beds in the eastern suburbs before the new beds have been opened in the western suburbs. It is well known and it is documented that the teaching hospital for the western suburbs, Westmead hospital, is already grossly overcrowded. Equally it needs to be placed on the record that there is a very high level of respiratory disease in Wollongong. The Illawarra region certainly does not have the facilities to deal with such people in specialist units.
I should also like to point out that there seems to be an inequity in the use of government money. The State Government apparently decided that it would counter the advertising campaign that was mounted in New South Wales against the Industrial Relations Bill by the Labor Council of New South Wales. The New South Wales Ombudsman, Mr David Landa, has now been asked to investigate whether or not the State Government wasted at least $50,000 of taxpayers' money running a political campaign against the Labor Council of New South Wales. I do not know how long we will have to wait before the result of the Ombudsman's investigation is known. However, I do know that although $50,000 is perhaps not a large sum of money in terms of an advertising budget, it is certainly far less than the Tobacco Institute and the tobacco lobby are spending on their present campaign against the bill introduced by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile:
It might be $6 million.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY:
By way of interjection, Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile has said that he believes the tobacco lobby will spend at least $6 million. That is probably true because I have been advised that that is exactly the sum of money the tobacco lobby spent when legislation similar to that proposed by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile was introduced in Western Australia. Of course, Western Australia has a far smaller population than New South Wales and, therefore, could not possibly have the same number of people suffering from smoking induced diseases as New South Wales. To return to the point I was making originally, it seems obvious that the State Government is able to find $50,000 to mount a campaign against the Labor Council but is not able to find a variety of smaller sums of money to assist people in need.
Only a few weeks ago I received a letter from a group calling itself Parents for Special Education from Bega on the South Coast. A representative of that group told me that it was trying to raise funds for the installation of an air cooling unit in each of the special classrooms at Bega primary school. These classes cater for children with a variety of intellectual and physical disabilities of varying severity who reside between Eden and Kiama. The classrooms in which these special needs children are taught are portable buildings and become extremely hot and unpleasant during the summer months. Honourable members will appreciate that some of these children who have to be taught in these rooms are immobile. They are confined to wheelchairs and some are even unable to communicate their need for fluids or indicate any discomfort they may be experiencing.
It is uncomfortable in hot weather for other children, for teachers, for voluntary helpers and for therapists who provide the occupational therapy and physiotherapy in these rooms. The letter was written to the Minister for Education by the group of parents, saying that they needed $8,000 to buy cooling units for these particular classrooms. They pointed out that the cooling units have to be of a particular type to cater for the allergy and immobility problems of the children; the units, apparently, also have to fall within the guidelines of Department of School Education requirements. The parents obtained a quote from a heating and solar engineering firm in Bega. Had they been able to buy the heating units on 5th September, 1991, the total investment would have been $8,258. The managing director of the firm stated, "The above price will remain firm for 60 days". But what has happened? The State Government, which can easily spend $50,000 on a campaign against the Labor Council of New South Wales, cannot find $8,000 for children with special needs. The Department of School Education wrote back to the president of Parents for Special Education and said:
You would appreciate that it is not policy to air condition schools east of the 33 degree climatic isotherm. Communities can however undertake projects to support their schools such as ground improvements or equipment and air cooling is included in the latter group.
The Assistant Director-General has indicated that it would be appropriate to support such a community project on a $1 for $1 basis.
So $50,000 can be found to fight the Labor Council but $8,000 cannot be found for children with special needs. The Government is being led now by the economic rationalists who say, as part of their slogan, that they are putting people first by managing better. I do not believe the example I have just given is indicative of putting people first. These are children with severe disabilities. I can hardly believe that the money would be wasted if it were spent on the children. I should like now to turn to juvenile justice, an important section of this year's Budget, particularly because the Standing Committee on Social Issues has been working on a reference for juvenile justice in this State for some time. Only 10 days ago some members of the committee spent a week in New Zealand studying the system of juvenile justice over there.
Many people forecast the danger of transferring juvenile justice from the family and community services portfolio - the old FACS division of government - to corrective services. It is admitted that general expenditure on law, order and public safety has increased, but that on juvenile justice has been reduced overall by 25 per cent. Recurrent expenditure has decreased 7.2 per cent from $35.5 million to $32.9 million, and capital expenditure has reduced by 60 per cent from $18.5 million to $7.6 million. It is quite obvious that the need for the previously high allocation for capital works has diminished, even if it could have been justified in the first place, with the building of the Mount Penang secure unit. However, it would have been preferable for funds to have been transferred to constructive community programs to keep young people out of detention. I am worried about what will happen. So far as I can see in the Budget there has not been an increase in expenditure on community based young offender services relative to detention services. If I am wrong in this assertion, I hope the Minister will address this in his reply and explain to me that I am not fully informed. I also find it disturbing to note that staffing for juvenile justice activities, pre-sentence services, diversionary services, services to courts, community education, liaison and service development, and program support have been all reduced.
I agree that there is one positive side to this issue: money for general duties youth officers has been increased by $500,000. This is money for police officers responsible for the prevention and reduction of youth crime. However, there is confusion about the stated allocation of $8.5 million for young offenders' supervision. This is the scheme to assist young offenders with education, training and other support services with a view to preventing their long-term involvement in the justice system. However, inquiries reveal that this does not correspond with the $2.51 million allocation for young offender support, and the $8.5 million is a general allocation which includes young offender support services or YOSS. I should like to mention expenditure by the Government on justice as a whole. The Government has provided for increases in recurrent allocations to police, corrective services and the courts. However, I believe it has failed to recognise that this will probably increase the number of matters that will be dealt with in the courts. Regrettably the Government has failed to increase the legal aid budget or to introduce specific community based crime prevention initiatives. As I explained earlier, and have done by way of questions over the past few weeks, the provision of adequate legal aid is more necessary now than it ever has been, particularly because we are in a time of recession.
It could also be argued that an increase in the budgets for police, corrective services and courts shows the Government's commitment to the purely punitive aspects of the justice system. The punitive policies of the Government have meant there are now more than 6,000 prisoners in the State's gaols. As a result of that, recurrent spending on corrective services will increase by 13 per cent. This will be spent on new cells and additional prison officers. The forecast is that 500 more prison officers are to be employed with the force growing from 2,500 to 3,000. Commentators such as Associate Professor Dave Brown of the law faculty of the University of New South Wales believe there is no evidence that a larger criminal justice system will reduce crime. Indeed, the socioeconomic factors of which crime is largely a product have tended to be ignored in the rush to get tough about crime. In New South Wales, according to Professor Brown, the law and order budget has trebled since 1987-88 but the education budget has been cut by 4.9 per cent. That was long before we had an unemployment rate of more than 10 per cent. There is absolutely no doubt that crime increases in times of high unemployment. It is inevitable that a group of people with no money and who find it very difficult to exist on inadequate social service benefits, particularly if they are young people, will turn to petty larceny, pilfering, bag-snatching and a variety of criminal acts in order to obtain money.
It is disappointing to note that though the prison population has increased, staffing for the development and education of prisoners has decreased. Staffing to assist prisoners to acquire education and life and trade skills will fall from 448 in 1990-91 to 427 in 1991-92. Again, this will have an impact because the number of prisoners being kept in gaols is increasing. I ask the Minister for Justice to specify what proportion of the $3 million saved each year from restructuring, as was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald
of 9th October, will be spent on increasing educational opportunities for prisoners? In addition, what proportion will be spent on increased training for prison officers? It is disturbing that the number of Aborigines in New South Wales prisons has increased by 72 per cent since the Greiner Government came to office. Though the Government has some programs in place to deal with this problem, it appears that these programs are inadequate. They must be reviewed as a matter of urgency, as legislation must be also reviewed: I deal here with the Summary Offences Act.
Because of its shortage of funds the Department of Corrective Services is looking to the private sector to provide services. This year construction will begin on a $60 million privately operated prison at Junee. I realise that privately operated prisons appeal to a government that is suffering severely from financial restraint, but I would ask honourable members to note that there has yet to be any external evaluation of their impact. Though an extensive monitoring system has been installed at the privately run prison at Borallon, near Ipswich, Queensland, there has as yet been no independent appraisal of that facility. I visited Borallon and I was most impressed by that regime but at the time of my visit it had been in existence only for about 18 months. It is a little too early to decide whether it will meet the needs of both the community and the prisoners who are sent to that facility. The firm that installed the monitoring system at Borallon tendered unsuccessfully for the Junee contract, so there is no guarantee that the Junee prison will be run on similar lines to that of Borallon. Therefore there is even less likelihood of our knowing for many years how valuable the training and regime will be in the privately run institution at Junee. The bottom line in this Government's corrective services policy is a simplistic solution - get tough and save money. The rehabilitation of prisoners does not appear to be a prime consideration. Though the non-custodial sentencing options appear to be part of the Government's strategy, the prime motivation has been to save money and deal with our massively overcrowded gaols rather than make programs work and attempt to rehabilitate prisoners.
The periodic detention program is in a state of chaos. There are absentee rates of up to 40 per cent, and this figure was revealed in the confidential audit that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald
of 30th October. It was pointed out that the lack of competent management and resources is responsible for the absentee rate. I ask honourable members to note that about two per cent only of the corrective services recurrent budget is spent on post-custodial services, and that grants and subsidies for prisoners' aftercare have fallen from $543,000 in 1990-91 to $507,000 this year. A faxed message that I received from the office of the Minister for Justice revealed that community grants allocations were also cut from the 1989 and 1990 allocation. For example, the allocation to the St Xavier's neighbourhood centre at Goulburn has been reduced by $4,000, from $14,000 to $10,000, in this year's budget. That centre is necessary because of the maximum security facility at Goulburn. The allocation for the Grafton Women's Refuge, which assists the families of prisoners in Grafton gaol, has been halved. The community group known as Our Lady of the Snows and Underprivileged People's Association has also had its allocation reduced. The Bathurst Emergency Accommodation service has had its allocation cut by one third.
If individuals are to gain anything after being imprisoned, that gain will come about only if prisoners can keep in close contact with and have the support of their families while they are undergoing their sentences. If the support services that assist women and children to be near and visit prisoners frequently are to be cut, people who must travel from Sydney or from the Far West of the State to visit their relatives in either Grafton, Goulburn or Bathurst prisons will be disadvantaged and those visits inevitably will be curtailed. That will not assist the rehabilitation of prisoners. Being cut off from family life is one of the worst punishments that can be imposed on anyone. It has been documented that prisoners have great difficulty readjusting to normal life once they have been released. Aftercare services require enormous expenditure and support. Prisoners need support in finding employment and accommodation. Very often they return to a life of crime for want of a better alternative. It is appalling that in 1991 a government can incarcerate criminals and leave them with little support after they are released from gaol at a time when many of them are trying to go straight. In the past two days I came across two articles which I believe are relevant to this budget debate. The first is an article that appeared in the Economist
of 1st November. The article dealt with a remark made by a Democratic candidate for America's presidency in 1896, almost 100 years ago. As part of his campaign that candidate said, "You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold". Regrettably this is what is happening with economic rationalism. Mankind is being crucified in this State at a time of high unemployment by reducing support services for the least privileged in society.
Several months ago, like many other honourable members, I made a donation to the Parliamentary Library for the purchase of books. During the past few days the Acting Parliamentary Librarian sent me a copy of the book Rogues and Vagabonds
. The book is about the vagrant underworld in Great Britain from 1815 to 1985. It makes very depressing reading. It shows that during this 170 years in Great Britain very little progress has been made, as there are people still regarded as rogues and vagabonds. The book quotes what happened in Great Britain more than 100 years ago. At that time a contemporary police register was kept of pickups, that is people found in the streets. The register contained references such as "found deserted by parents", "found destitute and ill in the streets", "found in the streets in a state of insanity". That is happening now, at least in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, if not in our bigger country towns. The last chapter of the book deals with loitering, and quotes in 1978 a member of the House of Lords having said:
All sorts of people loiter because they have nowhere to go. Badly housed people loiter in public places because they do not like staying inside. Children after school loiter. Teenagers loiter. Window shoppers loiter. People waiting for buses and taxis loiter. Yet there is something dirty about the word "loiter". No doubt it was originally used to describe people considered to be the riff-raff of society in the nineteenth century, and all too easily it can now be used to describe those who are thought to be riff-raff by the enforcers of the law.
Unfortunately in 1991 that word is still being used in this State. Concern has been expressed by law enforcement officers, law enforcement agencies and many people in the community about the number of young people who loiter, who hang around pool halls, video arcades and generally around the streets of Sydney, George Street in particular, and some of our major suburbs. They loiter because many of them - far too many of them - have nothing else to do. The rate of youth unemployment is higher than the adult rate, and many youths have no jobs. They are not able to receive further training. Many of them are so disillusioned because of the growing waiting list for jobs that they have decided it is not worthwhile to pursue training, as more often than not it does not lead to a job. For evidence of what is happening one need only have looked at the Four Corners
program last night about the problems facing young people in the city of Wollongong, one of our major cities.
We are losing a whole generation of young people because no government - whether the Federal Labor Government or the coalition State Government in New South Wales - has really come to grips with the problem of creating jobs. Unless that is done, and done quickly, a generation of young people will have been lost. It is just as dangerous and as environmentally damaging to lose a generation of young people as to lose a colony of bats because of mining in caves where the bats breed, or to lose colonies of endangered animals because of logging in native forests. Both are important issues; both must be addressed. Money must be found to create jobs. It is for this reason that I have been so critical of many areas of expenditure in this year's Budget and in particular of many areas in which this Government has decided to cut support services. Regrettably in looking after the least privileged in our society we seem to be going backwards. We are not going forward.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER
[11.25]: As this is my first opportunity, I should like to welcome the new members of this House, who have all made their maiden speeches. I welcome the Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann, the Hon. Jan Burnswoods, the Hon. L. D. W. Coleman, the Hon. Patricia Forsythe, the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner, the Hon. D. F. Moppett, the Hon. E. M. Obeid, the Hon. J. F. Ryan, and the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. Having listened to their maiden speeches, I was struck by their ability to deliver strong, forceful speeches. The Hon. L. D. W. Coleman was very nervous but spoke in his own language and made his words, and their intent, clear to everyone. I am sure the House appreciates what he said. Before speaking to the Budget, I place on record my gratitude to Sir Adrian Solomons, who as Chairman of Committees and Deputy-President of the Legislative Council was a man without peer. In the seven years that I have been a member of this House, particularly in my early years, I always looked to Sir Adrian as an example and listened closely to what he said. I shall miss Sir Adrian greatly and I wish him well for the future.
I should like to follow up the remarks of the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby about Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. It is appalling that in 1991 any government, but particularly a Liberal Party-National Party Government, should allow what is happening to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, one of the greatest teaching hospitals in this State and nation. That centre of excellence is being allowed to die on the vine. I do not know what guarantees have been given to Professor Sullivan about the sleep apnoea clinic. I
understand that a fortnight ago the Minister for Health Services Management held discussions about the clinic, but no one seems to know what will be its future. The suggestion that it be split between two floors of the hospital is a nonsense. It is the only clinic of its type in Australia. The bean counters who are supposedly in charge of the administration at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital simply cannot get their act together. It is all very well for the Minister for Health Services Management and the Minister for Health and Community Services to tut-tut and wash their hands of this matter; the simple of fact of life is that it is their responsibility to ensure that funds allocated to area health boards are utilised in the most beneficial way. Efficient administration should be about delivering the health dollar to the health service, not to the bean counters. That is what is happening at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and many other hospitals. The money is not being frittered or wasted - I do not suggest that the bean counters are inefficient to that extent - but the bean counters are ruining what could be a very good health service, particularly with regard to the clinic at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
I am sure that what is happening at Prince Alfred is happening at other hospitals. It is more noticeable at Prince Alfred for a number of reasons. Its medical board decided to go public to tell the world exactly what was going on. Obviously there is a divergence of opinion between administrators and the medical board. The hospital has to cut its number of beds. A significant problem arises, however, because Prince Alfred is not only a large teaching hospital but also a referring hospital. Hospitals throughout the State send people to Prince Alfred, at no cost to themselves. Prince Alfred hospital picks up the tab. If the budget for Prince Alfred is overrun because of that fact, surely the bean counters could develop a system to ensure that the hospitals that refer patients would be charged a fee for the time that those patients are at Prince Alfred hospital. Obviously, because Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is a centre of excellence, patients from Liverpool and elsewhere will be referred to it. Irrespective of what the Minister for Health Services Management and the Minister for Health and Community Services say, a better system could be developed without constraining services and cutting back on the number of hospital beds. If the Government believes that Alan Jones is ratting on it about Prince Alfred hospital, I assure it that he is not. He is trying to show the Government where it has gone wrong. The sooner a bomb is put under the bean counters and the administrators the better. During the past 18 months the number of administrative staff has increased from 1,100 to 1,500. Why so many are required is beyond my comprehension, especially when computer systems are being installed. It does not make sense, and the health dollar is not being delivered to areas of most need.
I shall inform honourable members of how drastic things are at Royal Prince Alfred's Page Clinic. At that clinic there is only one toilet and shower for women and another for men on each floor. Those facilities are shared by staff and patients. Should such basic items as thermometers be broken, replacements are difficult to get. One cannot even get a toilet roll at that clinic. I know because I was a patient there for 2½ weeks and I had to pilfer toilet rolls from the floor above. When I asked why problems existed with regard to such basic items I was advised that the warehouse had been transferred from behind the hospital to Alexandria. One wonders why such a decision was made. I was advised further that the Government will build a private hospital on the site previously occupied by the warehouse, directly behind the hospital. Is that regarded by the Government as being efficient?
The Hon. Helen Sham-Ho:
You said you wanted more hospital beds.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
I am talking about the rundown of services in a major teaching hospital. I will not wear the argument that the Government has transferred the health dollar to Liverpool and similar areas. That is nonsense. That has not occurred. The previous Labor Government commenced the transference of beds to
the west for the good reason that that is where the population is. If the Government is continuing with that policy, that is fine. It was the previous Labor Government which suggested that Liverpool Hospital should become a teaching hospital.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan:
It was not.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
I beg your pardon. I suggest that the Hon. J. F. Ryan check the facts. It is nonsense to suggest that the concept of beds to the west has been supported in the past three years by an injection of funds from this Liberal Party-National Party Government.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan:
Labor talked about beds for the west. This Government has taken beds to the west.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
Labor took beds to the west. The problem remains, however, that there is in the middle of our city a major teaching hospital. That cannot be moved elsewhere. In any event, why would one want to move it? If beds at Prince Alfred become fewer, to what hospital will patients be referred from other hospitals throughout the State? I shall tell honourable members what happens in such cases: people die. Does the Hon. J. F. Ryan think that is funny? He is a chipper young man but he has a lot to learn. He is still wet behind the ears. It is a shame that there is not a Sir Adrian Solomons in the Chamber to explain to him the meaning of life. Last week when two patients attended on referral to Prince Alfred Hospital they were informed that there were no beds available. One of those patients has since died, the other is seriously ill.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan:
That is not true.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
It is true, and the honourable member knows it is true. He has no evidence to suggest that what I have said is not fact. The honourable member should check the facts before he opens his mouth. A fact of life is that because beds at Prince Alfred are being cut back, doctors and hospitals cannot refer patients there and, consequently, patients are dying. If that is the fault of the bean counters, I suggest that the Minister for Health Services Management and the Minister for Health and Community Services get off their butts and do something about it before more people die. I shall now address some comments made by the Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith in her contribution. I am sure she would be most disappointed if I did not refer to some of them, including Moody's triple-A rating and political instability. When the previous Labor Government lost the election in 1988 New South Wales had a triple-A rating. It also had a budget surplus. In 1991 some problems have arisen with regard to that triple-A rating. The Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith suggested that the international investor service agency Moody's is concerned because of the political uncertainty confronting the present coalition Government. She said:
What was meant by the phrase "political instability"? Did it mean that New South Wales was subjected to a general strike which could do nothing but adversely affect the economic climate of the State? In other words, is New South Wales about to have its triple-A credit rating threatened because of the irresponsible actions of the Labor Council last week?
I remind the honourable member that the so-called "irresponsible actions of the Labor Council" were to postpone the general strike for a week to enable the New South Wales Olympic Committee to entertain the visiting International Olympic Committee. The Labor Council and every worker in New South Wales did not want to send the wrong
message to the world. The message was not that it was wrong to strike for what workers believed in; they did not want to cause any problems for this struggling Government in its attempts to attract the Olympic Games to this city. It was a responsible action.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
At least we will stand up for what we think is right, which is a damn sight more than I can say for the Greiner Government, which caved in to the lawyers without a blow being struck. The political instability referred to by Moody's has nothing to do with the trade union movement; it is the instability of this Government, which is in such a parlous state that Dr Metherell has crossed the floor and the Government has been forced to do a deal with the Independents. That is an example of the political instability that has been inherent in this Government since May. The trade union movement has not created political instability. The Government was able to force the industrial relations legislation, which was five years in the making, through the Parliament only because it cleverly removed from this Chamber the Hon. Marie Bignold, the Hon. Judith Jakins and the Hon. Mick Ibbett. Had those members not been retrenched from the upper House the legislation would not have been passed. Had the Hon. Marie Bignold still been a member of this House, the Industrial Relations Bill would have been sent back where it belonged in amended form. The sensible amendments of the Opposition would have been accepted -
The Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith:
I thought the Hon. Marie Bignold was supposed to be an Independent member. Does the honourable member suggest that she would have voted along the Labor line? That is interesting -
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Hon. Marie Bignold did not vote along the Labor line. The Hon. Marie Bignold was intelligent enough -
The Hon. J. F. Ryan:
She did not vote.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
She did vote.
Order! The Hon. Judith Walker has the call.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Hon. J. F. Ryan was not in the Chamber when the previous industrial legislation was before this House. The interesting part is that the Hon. Marie Bignold took the trouble to read the legislation, check the amendments and seek advice from a whole range of people as to the efficacy of that legislation.
The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Beryl Evans):
Order! There is too much audible conversation in the Chamber. I ask the Hon. Judith Walker to return to discussing the Budget.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
That the Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith should blame the Labor Council for political instability in this State is absolute nonsense.
The Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith:
The Hon. Judith Walker did not read the rest
of my argument.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
I have read many of the honourable member's arguments. Staff cuts are occurring in all hospitals. I am deeply concerned about the number of nurses who are graduating but will not be able to get jobs within the public or private health systemS. It is a sad indictment that these women -
The Hon. J. F. Ryan:
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
- and men, professionally trained in today's technology, will complete their training and not be able to obtain employment in nursing. Anyone visiting a major teaching hospital will notice a severe shortage of staff. The Government has not specifically told administrators to cut back on staff but administrators make decisions as to where the money should be spent. The Government should take special care to monitor how the administrators are spending its dollars. I know the Government does not have endless amounts of money and has increased the health budget, but many shortfalls exist in the area of health. I feel sorry for those men and women who have studied for the past three years only to learn that jobs will not be readily available to them.
Another matter I am greatly concerned about, but which I have not previously addressed in a budget debate, is corrective services. What has occurred in corrective services over the past three years has been nothing short of a disaster. The prison population has increased by 43 per cent. It is true that the main reason for that increase is the truth in sentencing provisions introduced by the Government. Unfortunately, some policies adopted by the former Minister for Corrective Services, the Hon. Michael Yabsley, have caused serious problems. Last year a large amount of money was wasted when the prison system erupted because private possessions, including wedding rings, were removed from prisoners. No one has come to the forefront with the real cost of that decision to the whole prison system. There have been guesstimates or estimates of $30 million worth of damage to the prisons of New South Wales.
The decision to confiscate the personal possessions of prisoners arose from an overseas trip by a retiring assistant commissioner, Mr Nixon, who returned from the United States with what he regarded as an excellent idea. Mr Yabsley put this policy into practice and all hell broke loose. The problem was so serious that the Hon. Nick Greiner had to come to the rescue and restore some common sense to the prison system. He returned prisoners' wedding rings and other possessions. No one is suggesting that prisoners should be given toffee apples and bags of lollies, but that policy was wrong and resulted in a sad waste of money. The problem is that the Government is in a bind with more than 6,000 inmates in the system. It is overcrowded and conditions are worsening. Because of the severe overcrowding of existing prisons, an increasing number of people are being held in cells attached to police stations. This is most unsatisfactory. As well, cutbacks have been implemented to the official visitors program. That is sad because prisoners need official visitors. Some horrifying things have been occurring, particularly to women, in Sydney Police Centre cells. No provisions are made for women at any of the police cells, but the position of the relatively new Sydney Police Centre is even worse.
Recently a woman being held in the Sydney Police Centre needed medical care. The police stationed there simply did not have the time to care for her and no doctor was available. It was only because an official prison visitor who happened to visit the cells that night became aware of the problem and took the matter up with the appropriate
people that help was provided the following day. However, the woman, who had insufficient clothing, spent a very cold, uncomfortable and painful night in the cells. By cutting funds the Government is causing many problems. A prisoner in a cell awaiting trial or on remand is innocent until proved guilty. More prisoners are on remand in New South Wales than in any other State in Australia, and 78 of those remand prisoners have been in custody for nearly 12 months. No Government should ever forget people's rights and civil liberties. This situation is a disgrace. Only last week the Ombudsman reported to the Parliament indicating that Campsie and Newtown had the worst custodial facilities. No police station is crash hot but something should be done immediately to try to rectify the matter. There must be more suitable accommodation for prisoners on remand than outdated, substandard cell blocks.
The Budget capital works program has been sadly diminished. This year's Budget does not provide sufficient capital works to make a dent in unemployment. Major works in progress for the Police Service have been completely scaled down. Police accommodation in many areas is appalling. Some police stations should be completely demolished. This year's Budget provides for a refurbishment of the Sydney Police Centre. The only other police stations to have any renovations carried out are Wollongong, Hornsby, Bathurst, Albury and the joint emergency centre complex at Hurstville. The remainder of the money is set aside for electronic and or computer work. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services should speak to the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs about allocating more funds for renovations of police stations round New South Wales.
The Hon. R. T. M. Bull:
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Hon. R. T. M. Bull asks from where, but there is no doubt in my mind that money is available in New South Wales. It just depends on how it is spent. Should we be spending millions of dollars on consultants when the State's senior public servants should be capable of doing most of the work required of those consultants. One of the greatest sleight-of-hand tricks of the Government since it has come to office has been to remove from its payroll thousands of State workers, and thousands more are to go. People are being made redundant in every area of endeavour - in the railways, the Roads and Traffic Authority, the State Transit Authority, the ferry services and hospitals. Hospitals are not hiring graduate nurses but are hiring contract nurses from employment agencies. The Government wants to reduce the number of State workers to avoid salary on-costs. That is what it is all about. The Government insists on shedding not its executive-style employees but those who might be called workers in the lower orders of the public service.
The Government has made practically a clean sweep through some areas of employment. Railways staff have been cut throughout New South Wales, especially in country areas, and some country towns have almost been closed down as a result. Country people are not happy with what the Government is doing, in particular, to the railway system. How can a railway system be regenerated in good times if its infrastructure is destroyed in lean times? The Government must realise sooner or later that hospital services will be severely diminished if hospitals refuse to employ nursing staff to avoid salary on-costs such as workers' compensation, holiday pay, long service leave and superannuation. I do not suggest that health workers hired on contract through private employment agencies are less than professional but they do not have the same loyalty to a hospital as a nurse who has been trained and given employment at that hospital.
An interesting and graphic photograph of the honourable Nicholas Francis Greiner carries a caption that says, "If it is redundancy you are after we are the only ones for the job". It is a shame that cost restrictions on Hansard
prevent that photograph and caption being incorporated. What the caption says is true; if a worker in this State wants redundancy, the Government will give it. Alarmists possibly blame the Federal Government for the so-called recession - or depression as the Minister for Police and Emergency Services says - that we had to have. The Federal Government did not create the recession; the whole world is in a recession. Australia has been a nation of big spenders and now we have to pay the piper. For the past seven years programs have been developed to try to pay that piper. Most important, inflation has been reduced to put value back in the dollar. Now is not the time to institute job creation programs throughout Australia. We must constrain ourselves, hold the line and encourage business to hire people to promote the economy, and stop talking the economy down. The New South Wales Government should be doing exactly that. If the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs is such a good money manager, he should be able to talk business up, not down, in this State.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
New South Wales had the lowest level of unemployment in the country. What other measure would you prefer?
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Minister should realise unemployment in New South Wales is steadily getting worse, especially for young people.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
As it is in the rest of the industrialised countries.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
Next year the level of unemployment will be worse owing to the number of TAFE places that have been cut.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
That is pure nonsense; the facts are quite the contrary. We will stop the wine appreciation course and let young people learn how to be fitters and turners. The honourable member does not know what she is talking about. We will stop the nonsense and offer real education to real people wanting to do real jobs.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Minister for Police and Emergency Services is trifling with a most important topic. The former Labor Government did not set up the TAFE wine appreciation courses.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
Yes, it did. It set up all those mickey mouse things. It was good at mickey mouse things.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Minister makes ridiculous and puerile statements but ignores the fact that the Government is retrenching many people.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
They have all got jobs out in the private sector.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
They have not got jobs in the private sector. People made redundant need to do something to improve the quality of their lives, given that the Government has destroyed their lives.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
By cutting out courses on wine appreciation, or how to buy Christmas presents?
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
Why should people not undertake courses on wine appreciation, how to buy Christmas presents, or any other interest?
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
Young boys in the community want to become fitters and turners.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Government will not be able to pull the wool over everyone's eyes by suggesting that TAFE courses will be cut but will be available elsewhere. The Government's restructuring program has gone bad and has cost about $30 million. As a result, 300,000 hours must be cut across the board in New South Wales. The Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Further Education, Training and Employment, the responsible Minister in the other place, is in a blue with his counterpart in the Federal Government. I advise those Ministers that they should sit down and use their mouths. If the State Minister is as good as he says he is, he should be able to negotiate a better deal for New South Wales and more money for TAFE so that young people coming out with the higher school certificate will not be turned away from courses in their thousands. Most of those young people will not be seeking to take courses on wine appreciation or how to buy Christmas gifts; they will be trying to undertake business and trade studies but will not be able to. That is not a figment of the imagination but a cold hard fact of life. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services knows that well but chooses to be flippant. This week there will be a full moon. Every full moon the Minister becomes flippant. The Minister has an amazing likeness to a creature from the past.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
Albert Einstein, Bob Menzies?
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Minister should not be flippant about education and jobs and sacking or retrenching people over the age of 45.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
The honourable member has only one supporter who has bothered to listen to her.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
My colleagues listen in spirit upstairs. I do not need their physical presence in the Chamber. I am not blaming the Minister for Police and Emergency Services for the mess that TAFE got into through a restructuring that caused absolute mayhem and lost a lot of money. The Government must rein itself in and not misplace funds. Money is available but is not being delivered on the ground in health care or a range of other valued community services.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
That is nonsense. Where is the money going if not to those services?
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
The Minister for Health and Community Services has concluded that areas of family and community services need to be reconsidered for funding. I wish him well. The Greiner Government will be finished if the Minister for Health and Community Services does not apply his brain power to health and ensure delivery of health dollars to hospitals. I do not suggest that I want the Government to stay in office. Labor has good reason to expect to attain office.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
You will be waiting a long time.
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
Unless the health dollar is delivered more effectively, on the ground, more people will die and the Government will be to blame.
The Minister should not be flippant about that. It is a sad indictment of the Greiner Government that these things are occurring in New South Wales. Given that much of what I proposed to say has been said before, I shall conclude by saying that I am deeply concerned about the future of the work force in New South Wales because of the new industrial relations legislation. I understand that the Minister in the other place believes that the new legislation will give New South Wales a better economy and the opportunity to make better arrangements. I counsel the Government to be very careful. On a number of issues it has promised to set up committees to vet all of these things. I hope it does so. I remind the Government that no feedback has been made available following the introduction last year of the new Mental Health Act. I am concerned for people who have now come under the Richmond scheme and are not receiving adequate care. That is another area in which money is not being delivered at the bottom level. I counsel the Government to be extremely careful.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
Who introduced the Richmond scheme?
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER:
It is not a question of who introduced it. People have been put into the streets and are suffering because of a lack of care and support services, particularly as a result of the Richmond scheme.
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT
[12.1]: I speak in this debate to support the Budget wholeheartedly. I shall use my best endeavours to give a ringing endorsement to the Government not only for the immediate provisions of the Budget but also for the overall strategy and responsibility of the Government in managing the State's finances. That leads to a consideration of the grave importance of managing this State responsibly within the context of the nation. Before going to that, I take advantage of the conventions that surround these debates and add my compliments to the new members of this House for their contributions recently completed in this and other debates. To those members who were inducted into the Parliament at the same time as I made my return to this place - the Hon. Patricia Forsythe, the Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann, the Hon. Jan Burnswoods, as well as the Hon. John Ryan and the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner - I reaffirm the welcome that I was able to offer in an earlier speech. On this occasion I congratulate each and every one of them on the speeches they presented to the Parliament in their maiden contributions. Those speeches were, as many honourable members have said, thoughtful, individual and reflected great credit on each of those members.
For fear that repetition may attenuate the sincerity of what I have to say to those members, I shall not go into the detail of what they said, or expand on my congratulations, except to refer particularly to the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner and thank her for her reference to me in her contribution. It gave me much pleasure to hear her speak so competently. She gave notice to other honourable members - and it will become apparent to the wider public as the content of her speech is made known - of the extent of her interest and capacity to serve the people of New South Wales through this Parliament. I join with her in recording my sincere appreciation and admiration for the contribution that our former colleagues, the Hon. Sir Adrian Solomons, the Hon. Richard Killen, the Hon. Jack Doohan, and although perhaps not strictly entitled to the term any longer except in all of our hearts, the Hon. Judy Jakins for the contributions they made to the Parliament and a wide diversity of communities, certainly primarily in the country, but in the wider community of New South Wales. They are wonderful people. It is always worth while to reflect on a contribution that is of such a prodigious nature.
Two other honourable members joined this House after that group. I extend my welcome to the Hon. Lloyd Coleman and the Hon. Eddie Obeid. They became members
as a result of casual vacancies caused by the retirement of Sir Adrian Solomons, on the one hand, and the Hon. Jack Hallam on the other. To the Hon. Lloyd Coleman I say how much I appreciated his comments to the House, particularly the deep sincerity with which he spoke about rural matters. To the Hon. Eddie Obeid I offer congratulations on an extensive, well thought-out, challenging and stimulating speech. Of the two of them together one might remark on how significant it was that, on the one hand, the Hon. Eddie Obeid looked to those years in the middle seventies as ones of political inspiration, whereas the Hon. Lloyd Coleman was able to come down to the pragmatic realities of how the financial management of our nation during that period brought about great hardship in various areas of the community, and perhaps sowed the seeds of the difficulties to which honourable members have referred in speaking to the present State Budget. I should like to indulge in this ambience of magnanimity and non-partisanship that exists in the Budget Debate to offer sincere words of encouragement to the Opposition and the Australian Democrats in this House. I regret that throughout the debate the attendance of members of the Labor Party particularly has been fairly sparse. That reflects the importance they attach to the Budget.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan:
It is typical that almost no Opposition members are present.
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT:
That is so. At times I have noted that no members of the Labor Party have been present in the Chamber during debate on the Budget. I offer these words of encouragement without any facetiousness, but very sincerely. I believe that the members of the Labor Party particularly, but also the Australian Democrats, must stir themselves and enter into contemporary debate on the financial affairs of this State and nation. Though it might seem obscure to those of us who are closely involved in the operations of government, it must be true that somewhere along the line the old maxim will apply: that this Government cannot operate at peak efficiency without a vigorous Opposition. It is sad to say that not only in this debate but throughout the life of this Parliament we have lacked that vigorous opposition from the Australian Labor Party to keep the Government on its toes. It is a sad reflection - and I say this in a completely non-partisan way as a dispassionate assessment of the facts - that members of the Australian Labor Party when in government were nothing more than delinquents in charge of the finances of the State. In opposition they have reverted to being economic mystics and financial dilettantes. That will not serve the interests of the State at all well. Again at this time only one member of the Labor Party is in the House, but I hope the other members are listening in their rooms and will read my remarks in Hansard
. They must be reminded to prepare themselves for the remote possibility - no matter how remote it might be - that they may return to government and will have to face the realities of running the State and its financial demands.
As I mentioned, it has been rather disappointing for the public that during questions in the House and questions before the estimates committees Opposition members have been slow to get their act together. They have been generally lethargic in their questions to Ministers, spasmodic in their focus, and the interest they have shown in financial matters has been at best desultory. This cannot help the good government of our State. I am reminded that during one of the debates the Deputy Leader of the Opposition entertained honourable members, I suppose to be fair, in talking about freehold title, by making extensive quotations from a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald
of the last century. In its place that would have been quite okay, but the difficulty when it comes to economic matters is that the same references seem to be used. One can almost imagine Australian Labor Party members coming into the House with a crumpled and yellowing copy of the Financial Times
tucked in their back pockets, hoping to find
some inspiration to be able to enter into the debate, which has been so singularly stolen from them by the entry on to the Government benches of the Liberal Party and National Party back in 1988, and particularly the far-sightedness and competence of Nick Greiner as our Treasurer.
The Australian Labor Party is almost like Rip Van Winkle; it has suddenly woken up after a long sleep and is bringing back into this House the slogans of another time. I sincerely appeal to the Australian Labor Party to shed that superficial approach to politics and to get involved in the pressing difficulties that confront our nation and this State. Honourable members can no longer look forward to tuning into another episode of "Blue Hills", or when the Australian Democrats have time to attend the House to imagine that May Gibbs' characters have come alive and are here to entertain them with totally unrelated arguments about the Budget and the direction in which the State must travel. I remind honourable members who are present to follow my remarks today of the old but true aphorism that government is finance and finance is government. If a government cannot control the finances of a State or Commonwealth, it will be thrown out. Its primary job is to convert the aims and aspirations of the community as it perceives them into financial terms so that they can be carried out in an orderly way without totally destroying the economic fabric of our community, which I should remind honourable members is much more a phenomenon of the private sector than it is of the government sector. Large as State and Commonwealth budgets are in aggregate, the reality is that the welfare of the community rests on the economy outside the government sector, and it is vital that the State Budget and those of other governments are in harmony with the economy of the nation as a whole.
I said that I wanted to endorse the budget measures and to speak about the wider context in which the Budget is set. I should like particularly to focus on three broad subjects. I wanted to talk about the budget strategy and the approach of this Government to the crisis confronting the State. I want briefly then to pick out some highlights of the provisions contained in the Budget, if for no other reason than to refute some of the specious claims and fatuous propositions Opposition members have put in their contributions, and to deal with a few of the highlights as I see them - though it will not be possible for me to do that exhaustively. I propose to address myself to what I think is the most serious subject in relation to State budgets, not only in this State but in other States, and that is the structural imperfections of the financial relationships between the State and the Commonwealth.
First, I turn to the budget strategy, which other speakers have referred to, but I think it is worth amplifying at this time in terms of the trilogy that I propose to speak about. I congratulate the Government and the Treasurer on moving from the old style of incremental budgeting - the previous year's estimates up or down a little here or a little there, a nudge here, a push there, a wink to some group that may have been able to develop some pressure, but basically being steered along, almost like some uncontrollable, gigantic elephant that can be only marginally changed at any one time in its course and direction. The Government has moved away from that position where every single function of government is brought out into the light and examined and critically analysed. On the one hand, it may be said that the approach of the Liberal Party-National Party Government has been cautious and conservative, but that is true only in so much as those words are synonymous with the words prudent, responsible and apposite. In reality, the Government could equally be described as audacious, daring and bold in its sweep of response, and I believe the only option available to this State is to accept, adopt and pursue the budget strategy that the Greiner Government has laid out in this and other budgets.
The sorts of features that I was referring to that make the Budget so commendable are the adoption of three-year planning, not only for the purposes of the Government, but publicising it so that members of the Opposition, and even the Australian Democrats, can try to get some sort of cohesiveness in the arguments they develop. I commend the Government for adopting the format of the government finance statistics conventions, which enable financial reports and financial budgeting to be compared on a State-by-State basis. Accrual accounting has been introduced gradually, and that will give those who wish to study the subject a truer picture of what is being voted in budgets and what has been spent when one looks retrospectively at the results. It is worthy of note that the Government has adopted a net basis for appropriation so that honourable members do not have to listen to long-winded explanations of what was carried over from last year and the various adjustments to learn what the Government is providing in appropriations for certain provisions.
I turn now to look at the overall objectives that the better accounting and management techniques have been directed towards. Other speakers have said - and it is worthy of repetition - that the Government has set out to constrain the debt trap in which it found itself and to avoid the debt trap syndrome that has marked so many businesses and was a feature of the outlook of many State governments in framing their budgets for this year. This country has always been plagued by debt. Not only the tyranny of distance has beset it, but debt has been with us perhaps because many of Australia's first settlers came without gold but, rather, with accoutrements wrought from iron. Therefore, capital has always been short in this country, exacerbating the long-term problem that had been fed by an assumption that the population was going to grow exponentially and the expenditure of one generation could be paid readily by another. The myth has been exploded. That position was exacerbated by the recent credit craze. I do not think one could call it anything other than that.
The Government has set about constraining the debt problem of New South Wales. Its achievements, though modest, have been determined, and it has made progress in that field. The servicing costs in the budget sector have come down from approximately 13 per cent of total outlays to approximately 10 per cent of outlays. I could go into other statistics, but there are more important things that I should touch upon. During the last five years of the former Labor Government the servicing cost of debt in the Budget rose by 20 per cent a year. Averaged over those five years, each year 20 per cent more of the State's resources were allocated to servicing a ballooning debt problem in this State. It has been marvellous that the Government has been able to stabilise that, turn it round and reduce it. The Treasurer can take great pride and satisfaction in that. A drive for efficiency of operations has taken place.
I was interested to hear an honourable member make derogatory comments about the drive for efficiency of operation, as though the reduction of staff was an end in itself rather than the sad but nevertheless inevitable result of the imposition of standards of efficiency that are common to the private sector everywhere else. There is no use honourable members getting involved in the conversations of people on the street and hearing what they thought of government and employment conditions over the past 25 years and then coming into the House and doing nothing about it. It was becoming a public outrage, and it is wonderful that this Government had the courage to look at every item, to examine each from top to bottom and to apply those productivity targets. Although they have caused some pain, they have harvested great rewards in freeing up funds for other more necessary, appropriate and contemporary needs for the community.
There has been a critical review of all activities to sort out the core activities that government is on about - the things that people can expect from government and what government can efficiently do. That has been a revolution in thinking. It seemed that
the mentality of the previous Labor Government as it approached its inevitable demise was to stumble along with shibboleths of what we did in the past and therefore must continue to do for ever and ever, amen. One example that I would like to expand on, on another occasion, is the complete revolutionising of the Public Works Department in this State. It was once seen as a huge and cumbersome construction authority. Changes in the management approach and in the objects of the Public Works Department have been truly revolutionary and it is a great credit to the Deputy Premier, Minister for Public Works and Minister for Roads that he has been the overseer of this dramatic change. The Public Works Department has always been the Aunt Sally of government. I heard some honourable members expressing some wonderment that, despite the fact that substantial reductions in staff were being proposed for the Public Works Department, it was seen as having ever increasing influence in the engine room of government in its influence over budget and Treasury matters.
I foreshadow what I might have the opportunity to expand on at a later stage. We should look at our inventory of buildings and the implications of constructing a building in terms of maintenance needed in 10, 15 or 20 years. We should examine very critically whether we need that building and instead of rushing in and saying, "This is a new suburb. It has a higher requirement for school accommodation", perhaps we ought to think that in 15 more years there will be a more average community requirement for these sorts of facilities. The Public Works Department and the Minister have led that complete rethinking so that instead of three-year or five-year planning this State is now looking long into the future to what we can afford so that we do not saddle up future generations, and specifically future governments, with unsustainable and unfulfillable expectations in our community, simply becoming tied by a ball and chain to maintaining buildings and never being able to provide money to deal with immediate requirements. I know that my enthusiasm for the Public Works Department is not shared by all members of the House, so I defer further comment to when I have a chance to expand on that subject.
I am sure that all would agree that one of the other salutary things that we have seen over the past four years has been improved efficiency in trading operations. Government business dividends have gone from a relatively miserable $130 million to almost a billion dollars - more than $900 million according to projections for the 1991-92 Budget. One of the hallmarks of this Government is that it has said that operations will be either relevant to community demands, in which case they must operate on commercial lines and return a dividend to the government, or go, in which case these services would be provided by private enterprise where it is more efficient to do so. A whole range of such measures have been taken, not the least of which is the proposal to sell GIO Australia. That has all been part of the reform of government trading operations.
I touch on what I see as being the most important part of that trilogy and set aside for another time reference to the budget provisions which had attracted my attention and the magnitude of out-year problems, which were addressed in that Budget and which certainly were worthy of further comment. Due to time restrictions, I turn to the subject which is most important and dear to my mind. I do not believe that this State can go into the future financed in the way that it currently is. I have a number of reasons for making that assertion. Our financing is like a three-legged stool. For an organisation taking on the responsibilities it does to find itself depending on payroll tax for 30 per cent of State revenue and 16 per cent of our total expenditure, including Commonwealth contributions; on stamp duty for 26 per cent; and on duties on gambling, licences - fuel and tobacco are together - and motoring tax for 28 per cent is a totally unstable base for the running of the State. Virtually the whole revenue is covered by the three legs of that stool.
Worse than that, though - and I know that this a matter of public interest and that this House needs to note this - over the 90 years since Federation we have seen a declining share for New South Wales of all revenues which the Commonwealth has gathered. This started with the surrendering of customs and excise to the Commonwealth. Ten years after the initial arrangements were made, New South Wales began under new arrangements to lose its share. When the 1942 income tax arrangements came in - once again after the initial phase - New South Wales saw its share falling. For 1942 New South Wales's share of the total tax pool to be distributed to the States stood at 45.9 per cent. By 1958 it had fallen to 37.1 per cent. In another arrangement to change the base that came in after that, it fell to 30.8 per cent. Although there have been ups and downs, virtually every move that the Commonwealth has made has led to the share for New South Wales gradually falling relative to that of other States.
Lately the fall has been absolutely cataclysmic and since 1983-84 - that is, since the Hawke Labor Government came to office - we have seen the percentage of total outlays that is represented by Commonwealth payments fall from 57 per cent in 1983-84 to, in the proposed Budget of 1991-92, 40 per cent of total outlays. These figures are worth examining. Anyone who examines closely the current relationship with the Commonwealth would recognise that there is an escape clause and that in the year ahead, with the continuing recession, New South Wales under the current arrangements will be forced more and more to rely on its own resources. The resources are inadequate to finance the great and multifarious responsibilities undertaken on behalf of the citizens of New South Wales, who are also citizens of Australia.
I hope that the debate between the Premiers in the public arena will be enjoined by ordinary people and particularly by members of Parliament, both in this House and in the other place, who should recognise that a new federalism is urgently needed - but federalism which on this occasion will be sincerely followed by the Commonwealth Government and not subverted almost before the ink is dry - and certainly within a period of time - to sequester more and more money and power unto the Commonwealth. These agreements should be entered into with a proper spirit of co-operation and a sharing of responsibilities, having a common task of a better governed, more enlightened and better provided for society in New South Wales and Australia.
The Hon. DOROTHY ISAKSEN
[12.29]: In the past 12 months the actions of the Greiner Government have dramatically affected the lives and quality of life of the citizens of New South Wales. The Government, which repeatedly claims success as a superior economic manager, has changed the whole direction of this State. In the past six months New South Wales shed 56,700 jobs, although the remainder of Australia gained 28,100 jobs. The Government has failed to negotiate a viable TAFE funding solution with the Federal Government which would provide the required course places during this peak unemployment period. Ninety thousand students have been unable to enrol for TAFE courses and $30 million has been wasted on incompetent restructuring. The Opposition does not dispute that ongoing performance checks on efficiency and costs are needed, but in the public sector particularly the results have been devastating. Savage cuts have left the public service and State authorities crippled. At the same time huge amounts of money have been splashed around on pet projects and huge salary packages paid to executive staff. These actions have had a demoralising effect on those in the public sector who have seen their job security vanish. When they joined the public sector many of those employees received lower salaries than they could have obtained elsewhere but have served various governments loyally because they expected job security. They now find themselves tossed aside in mid-life. The rhetoric of the Government when claiming success with voluntary redundancy is a sham.
Following the Government's raid on Sydney Electricity funds last year of $740 million, the debt of Sydney Electricity rose from $143 million to $705 million. Its debt gearing ratio increased from 17 per cent to 70 per cent. The Budget increases the debt of Sydney Electricity as a result of a $132 million dividend to be paid to the New South Wales Treasury. Sydney Electricity has responded by dumping 25 prime commercial properties on to Sydney's depressed property market. Fifteen hundred jobs in Sydney Electricity are soon to disappear and six electricity showrooms are to close. The showrooms listed for closure within three months are those located at Toukley, Kingsford, Woy Woy, Burwood, Hornsby and Campsie. However, there is a chance that those located at Woy Woy and Toukley may survive, probably because of a possible by-election on the Central Coast.
Last year these six offices collected approximately $120 million from electricity customers. Almost 300,000 electricity bills were paid at those offices. The cuts mean a reduction in customer services despite the Greiner Government's record increases in electricity charges. Recently the painters and maintenance workers at Sydney Electricity were told they were no longer required. Some of these men started at the Sydney County Council as apprentices. They were offered a redundancy package and advised to accept it because if they did not they would be redeployed after 12 months at a lower rate of pay and with no guarantee of employment. Is this the Greiner Government's concept of voluntary redundancy? How devastating those actions must have been for those loyal employees. How angry they must be when they read that $660,000 is being spent on a new boardroom and offices for the chief executive officer and senior staff.
Some years ago one could go into a Sydney County Council showroom and compare various electrical appliances. One could seek advice from trained staff. Suburban showrooms conducted cooking classes and gave advice on the best use of a microwave oven or how to conserve energy. These services will disappear and be replaced by a few leased shopfronts. The gas company is obtaining a larger and larger share of the market because it provides a service to customers and promotes its appliances. This is the legacy of the former member for Hornsby who is now the Agent-General in London - the man who, 18 months ago, was handing out $75 cheques to customers from the supposed surplus funds, the bulk of which the Government grabbed for itself to balance its budget. One might ask what has happened to the second cheque that customers of the Sydney County Council were promised. One can understand why the Government wanted to forget about the first attempt: it was the greatest case of mismanagement ever witnessed. Eighteen months after it discovered these excess funds, staff are being dismissed and services cut to save funds. So much for the Greiner Government's superior financial management.
I turn to health. When someone has to wait in a corridor for 12 hours for a hospital bed, when a major teaching hospital closes its doors to ambulances for 25 days in a row, it is obviously not an exaggeration to say that the health system in this State is in crisis. What is the Greiner Government's answer to this growing problem? The formula is simple: the closure of some hospitals, productivity cuts of at least 1.5 per cent at all of them, extended bed closures over the Christmas period and delays in the redevelopment of hospital facilities. For example, the move of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children from Camperdown to Westmead has been delayed for another 12 months. That is what the Government is doing; what it is saying is quite different. It claims its solution to the problems in health care services is to redistribute limited resources from rich hospitals to those with the poor facilities in the growth areas of western and southern Sydney, the Central Coast and the North Coast. That policy is the correct one; it is one with which the Opposition strongly agrees. But under this
Government there is an ever deepening chasm between policy and practice. The Robin Hoods of Macquarie Street are pulling a fast one.
Having made transfers within the inner west and city areas, the Government is currently in the process of closing 60 hospital beds. The Minister says resources are to be transferred to growth areas. If that were the case, surely 60 new beds would be operating in the west. The fact is that there will be one new bed - one additional intensive care bed at Westmead hospital, and even that figure is generous. It is more of a maybe than a commitment. No other hospital beds will be opened for three years in western Sydney. In the State Budget brought down on Tuesday, 24th September, the Government claimed it was boosting health spending by 1 per cent in real terms. However, western Sydney's budget share, the crucial figure revealing the true distribution of resources, tells a different story. According to the Government's own resource allocation formula, western Sydney should receive 11.34 per cent of the health budget. In fact, it has been allocated 11.28 per cent. The area has been shortchanged by $2 million.
At the same time the Central Sydney Area Health Service located in the inner city has received more than its fair share. The formula prescribes that it should receive 8.6 per cent of the health budget. It has been allocated 9.1 per cent. The closure of small hospitals will not help. That dramatic measure serves only to place additional strain on the major teaching facilities. The patients from St Josephs and Parramatta hospitals will have to be treated somewhere. They will blow out the already unacceptable waiting times of most hospitals in southern and western Sydney. The Government has been brazen enough to admit that its long-term goal is to reduce bed numbers. It wants to cut the number of hospital beds to 17,500 by the end of the decade. That means 3,500 beds will close. It is expected that by that time the population of New South Wales will be 6.7 million people. So, the Government wants 2.6 beds per thousand population. At present the western Sydney area has 3.2 beds per thousand population. The southwestern Sydney area has 2.8. The Government wants to reduce the number of hospital beds available to the population in these areas.
The small hospitals have been all but decimated. For example, Sydney Hospital is to become little more than a casualty unit. I share the views of the medical profession that this will simply not be viable. What is the use of a casualty unit with no back-up services? The result will be that patients are transferred to the major hospitals. The irony is that about 500,000 people come to the city each day, many from Sydney's west. This reduced emergency service for them will not be effective. Day surgery is the way of the future. The cost of treatment in a teaching hospital is about $800 to $1,000 a day. Overseas and local experience indicates that day surgery costs about one-third of that amount. I recognise the need for major change in the health system. Resources desperately need to be redistributed, but the Government is only slashing services. I believe that with a clearer understanding of the health system and a more sensitive approach western Sydney and southwestern Sydney could have a much greater share of health resources and have them faster. Perhaps this Government's lack of commitment to health services in Sydney's south and west is most starkly demonstrated by its constant attack on every hospital budget every year. The Government imposes a 1.5 per cent so-called productivity slash on all hospital budgets, whether they are in the rich inner city or in the west. Surely if the Government had any commitment to the redistribution of resources it would abandon these cuts in respect of growth areas.
I am deeply concerned about the issue of unemployment among nurses. The Government must take full responsibility for this appalling situation which has been
caused by government mismanagement. The assault on public hospitals, including the winding down and closure of five suburban hospitals, is the main reason that trained nurses are facing the bitter truth that there will be no jobs for them. It is almost unheard of in New South Wales that nurses are not guaranteed jobs after their years of training. It is entirely this Government's fault that about 800 of those who will graduate this year face the scrap-heap even before they begin their careers. The closure or winding down of hospitals means that nurses are being deployed in the major teaching hospitals, leaving those hospitals with no vacancies for new recruits. The situation has been made worse because of the Government's recent overseas recruitment drive for nurses. For the Minister to dismiss this problem by suggesting that overseas trained nurses will be employed in the private hospital sector is simply untrue. Private hospital requirements for overseas trained nurses are exactly the same as those in the public hospitals, that is, they must have 12 months' experience. If the Government was really committed to good management it should have come clean about its plans for closures before it embarked on the recruitment drive. One year ago the Government was warned of the dangers of an oversupply of nurses but it has done nothing about it.
The 1.5 per cent productivity slashes in respect of all hospitals are also causing a squeeze on the job market for nurses. Hospitals need more nursing staff but they simply cannot afford them. Westmead hospital alone has had its nursing budget cut by $3.5 million. This draconian measure means that the hospital will barely be able to take an extra trainee, and that will add to the pressure on the already overstretched staff. The Government must face this problem and quickly make every effort to employ all nursing graduates. A couple of weeks ago I asked a question of the Minister for Health and Community Services about graduate nurses and he made the comment that they would find jobs in the private sector. I have since been contacted by the parents of a trainee nurse who is to graduate this year and they assure me that the private hospitals will not take the graduates because those hospitals insist that the graduates have 12 months' training in a public hospital. That avenue of employment is not available to trainees. It is a tragedy that these graduates will find themselves seeking employment outside the health system. One wonders whether they will have the same enthusiasm about returning to the health system when jobs are eventually available for them.
The Hon. Franca Arena:
And after a couple of years the Government will be recruiting nurses from all over the world.
The Hon. DOROTHY ISAKSEN:
That is right. Overseas hospitals have the same requirements. Our graduates will be unable to get jobs in overseas hospitals because those hospitals require them to have at least 12 months' experience in a public hospital in Australia before they will give them jobs overseas. The Government's decision to lift the five-year moratorium on mental health funds has greatly disadvantaged the mentally ill. Since 1989 mental health services have been funded separately from other health programs under the moratorium. Now the Minister for Health Services Management, the Hon. Ron Phillips, has handed the control of mental health funding to area health services. The Alliance for the Mentally Ill has condemned the decision, claiming the Government has reneged on a promise made in 1989 by the former Minister for Health, Peter Collins, in 1989. The alliance claims that many area health services are still understaffed and positions are being frozen. They are concerned that global budgeting will result in mental health services being sacrificed to keep teaching hospitals going.
At Manly District Hospital's new psychiatric ward 12 beds have been axed before the ward has opened. The Northern Sydney Area Health Service has confirmed
that the $5.5 million ward will have only 20 beds, despite having the capacity for 32. One wonders if this has anything to do with the fact that the Government lost the seat of Manly at the last election. The new psychiatric ward, which is scheduled to open early next year, will replace the hospital's existing 13-bed north wing unit. The extra seven beds will not meet the needs. The present wing is constantly full and many patients are ferried to Macquarie Hospital at North Ryde each week because of the acute lack of space. Over the past year there has been a spate of suicides at North Head and this shows a great need for strong mental health services in Manly-Warringah. The Northern Sydney Area Health Service claims that it was given money to build the new ward but has had to use existing funding to staff it. It is now proposed to use the additional 12 beds for geriatric patients.
I should like to take this opportunity to add my protest to those expressed already by the Hon. Ann Symonds and the Hon. P. F. O'Grady about the decision to charge admission fees to the Powerhouse Museum. It is a great museum and one of the delights in visiting it was the crowds of eager children who were always there. The opportunities for them to participate in the various functions provided at the museum created a stimulating environment. It was also an adventure for adults. Its location, its proximity to Darling Harbour, and the fact that admission was free enabled thousands of children and adults to visit it. Since fees were introduced in September, there has been a drop in attendance of more than 60 per cent, and this is a tragedy. As Dr Peter Pockley, the science and education writer for the Sun-Herald
, said, "Let's be clear. Taxes on knowledge are attacks on knowledge". We know that many families are struggling in the present recession and that more than 10 per cent of the population are unemployed. This is surely the worst time to deny access to exciting and challenging recreational facilities. Now we are informed that the Australian Museum is to introduce entrance fees from February next year. The Australian Museum is one of the finest museums in the world, and for 164 years entry to it has been free. The Greiner-Murray Government is very shortsighted in cutting funds to these areas. Encouraging the thirst for knowledge is a wise investment. There will now be New South Wales children who will never experience a visit to these wonderful institutions.
In May the Premier assured the electors of New South Wales that this State would be in the black. The reality is that State debt has increased every year under this Government. The total State debt last June was $3,677 for every man, woman and child. This year that debt will increase by $187 per person to $3,864 for every New South Wales resident. This year State taxes will increase by $900 million or 11.1 per cent, which is three times the inflation rate. New South Wales is already the highest taxed State in Australia. This year each person will pay $1,590 in State taxes alone, that is, $2.50 a head more than the citizens of Victoria pay. One of the Premier's election promises was not to increase charges beyond the consumer price index. He broke that promise only days after the election. This Government promised good economic management and it has failed. This Budget certainly does not provide any solutions.
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN
[12.50]: This Budget demonstrates the failure of the Greiner Government's approach to economic policy. Not only does it represent a failure to address the needs of the people of New South Wales - through cuts to hospitals, technical and further education, employment programs and community services - but also it is a failure on Greiner's own terms. For a government that has run heavily on a platform of sound business management and small government, a blowout in government debt to $23 billion, and a real increase in expenditure of 12 per cent and in revenue of 7 per cent, is a disastrous record. Add to this such episodes as the bailout of Eastern Creek Raceway and the threat to our triple-A credit rating, and it becomes
apparent that Mr Greiner is intent on following in the footsteps of other Harvard Business School success stories, such as Warwick Fairfax.
I have no problem with high levels of government expenditure per se - especially during a recession - provided that the expenditure goes to improve the State's infrastructure and social wage, and generates employment where it is most needed. However, this Budget delivers hospital closures, cuts in technical and further education, massive staff reductions among those public sector workers who actually deliver the services to the people of New South Wales, and a $2 million reduction in employment programs - all of this despite an unspent Federal grant of $12 million to combat youth unemployment - and real cuts in capital works expenditure. I do have a problem with increased expenditure on consultants, the already overprivileged senior executive service and what amounts to publicly-funded advertising for the Liberal Party. Similarly, though I am a great supporter of public ownership, I object to the $75 million nationalisation, or what I would call bailout, of Eastern Creek Raceway. Where problems requiring expenditure are acknowledged, they are dealt with in the wrong way entirely. For example, the predictable response to the urgent problem of overcrowding in New South Wales prisons is to employ more police and prison officers and to build more gaols and cells. The socially responsible and, in the long term, less expensive solution would be to find ways of reducing the number of prisoners. This would involve looking at alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
This Government has reduced the crime rate.
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN:
The Government is reducing the prison population by releasing prisoners such as Raymond John Denning. Reducing the prison population would involve tackling the causes of crime. Imprisonment, for example, is widely acknowledged as a major factor in turning petty offenders into professional criminals, and this will be exacerbated by the reduction in funding for education and training for prisoners.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
The bottom line is that the crime rate is falling.
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN:
Police are so understaffed they are unable to find the criminals. A specific example of the inappropriate nature of the Greiner Government's response to overcrowding in prisons can be found in respect of the imprisonment of Aborigines. This Government has presided over a massive 72 per cent increase in the Aboriginal gaol population. One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was that imprisonment be a last resort for street offences and victimless crimes. Clearly this has been ignored by the New South Wales Government and, by all indications in this Budget, it will continue to be ignored. However, the area on which I most want to concentrate is the Government's decision to close the Women's Directorate within the Department of Industrial Relations, Employment, Training and Further Education. On 31st July, without any warning to those involved, the director-general of the department issued a memorandum in which he said that "certain of the department's services would have to be withdrawn or wound back in order to achieve budget savings required of all agencies across the New South Wales Public Sector". In enumerating the so-called savings that were to be made he stated baldly:
The Women's Directorate's services have largely been mainstreamed into other functions of Employment and Training Services. A specialist core will be retained to provide advice on women's employment and training issues. Three positions will be deleted as a result of these changes.
That is what the director-general said. I shall set out what actually happened.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering:
They were mainstreamed.
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN:
I am surprised to hear the Minister for Police and Emergency Services even mention mainstream. If the Minister had read the literature that I have read in the past five years he would know that mainstreaming is a totally discredited practice, and he would not mention it. Mainstreaming was discredited in 1985 and by 1991 it is old hat. In his memorandum, Dr Col Gellatly said that the cuts - including the abolition of the only specialist women's unit in the department - were made in areas with "the least disruption to our main services". What does Dr Gellatly consider to be services to women? Obviously, he does not consider them to be main services. This statement in itself is an indication of how unimportant women's issues are seen by the department and how it views the work of the Women's Directorate as being peripheral to its main agenda. It appears also that the decision was made with no consultation with the directorate's staff or with other key people, including the Minister responsible for women's interests, the Hon. Virginia Chadwick. I am sad that the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs is not present in the Chamber. I am sure the look on her face would confirm that she, as Minister responsible for women's interests, was not informed of the closing of the Women's Directorate before it occurred.
The total savings to the department of the closure of this unit was $80,000, involving the abolition of three positions, the assignment of regional officers of the directorate to local employment programs and the retention of three staff to "advise the department on mainstreaming women's employment issues". It is apparent from comments by the department and the Minister that the directorate's role has been seen merely as one of providing support and encouragement to women in employment. This view is in direct contrast to the actual role played by the directorate since its establishment in 1984. The directorate has always operated on a low budget, with a small number of staff and has performed a wide range of tasks directed at improving women's outcomes. I shall list the tasks the directorate has performed. When honourable members see how the budget cuts have affected the directorate, they will understand why I argue that this Government has no interest in women's affairs.
Some of those tasks include: monitoring changes in the female work force; initiating research work; publishing well-researched documents; publishing and distributing information pamphlets; raising concerns about political initiatives which are unfavourable to women workers; resourcing and providing a secretariat to the New South Wales women's employment and training task force; holding workshops, seminars and conferences attended by a large number of industry representatives; providing high quality policy advice to other key departments and organisations; promoting a register of women in non-traditional areas; providing information to young women about career opportunities; providing advice to the department on employment programs; providing regional liaison and support on women's employment initiatives; promoting the Government's employment strategies through the women's budget and women's policy statements; providing a service to women who require information on employment rights, including maternity leave, award restructuring, pay equity and so on; and educating employers, organisations and women's groups about the role of the department and legislative provisions in relation to employment. For many years there has been a belief among women that this long list of responsibilities has been magnificently attended to by the now defunct Women's Directorate.
[The Deputy-President (The Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith) left the chair at 1 p.m. The House resumed at 2.30 p.m.
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN
[2.30]: As I said, the Women's Directorate within the Department of Industrial Relations, Employment, Training and Further Education has carried out a long list of functions over the years. There is a belief that the expertise built up within the directorate over the years has made an important and unique contribution to industrial relations in New South Wales. However, suddenly the Government decided that that expertise can be reproduced by others within the department simply by indulging in the long discredited practice of industrial relations mainstreaming. What is mainstreaming? It is a pity that the Minister for Police and Emergency Services is not present in the Chamber: he seemed to have a great belief in the efficacy of mainstreaming. Mainstreaming consists of obliterating specialist units such as the Women's Directorate and farming out the work done by those units to other sections. Mostly it is used by bosses in order to save money - precisely as has been envisaged in this so-called budget-saving move. However, mainstreaming should occur only when certain preconditions are met. A specialist unit should be abolished and its services farmed out to the so-called mainstream only when certain preconditions have been met. The Office of the Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment has set out a list of preconditions that that office believes should be met before government departments mainstream specialist women's units. Obviously there should have been preconditions for mainstreaming the provisions of the Women's Directorate. Obvious conditions would be that there would be no mainstreaming until there is total equality of employment -
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN:
The honourable member laughs. Why obliterate a women's unit while women still suffer discrimination in the workplace? The unit was established because it was accepted that women suffer discrimination in the workplace. Such units should be disbanded only when somehow it is accepted that everything is now fine and rosy, only when, say, there is no discrimination in promotion, about pregnancy, maternity leave and child care, no sexual harassment in the workplace, no gender wages gap, and when at all levels there is equality between men and women. Only when those preconditions have been met should there be any right to suggest that the Women's Directorate should cease to exist. I argue that we are a long way from that position. So, the decision to mainstream the functions of the Women's Directorate was taken not because mainstreaming was an appropriate strategy but because the Government believed it could save a quick buck at the expense of women. Of course, from the start the Government did not believe in the concept of the Women's Directorate.
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN:
The Hon. J. F. Ryan laughs. I assure him that his party did not believe in the concept of the Women's Directorate to start with. The Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Further Education, Training and Employment, in response to a question asked of him by the Hon. J. W. Shaw before an estimates committee, said, "It ought to be noted that at the time the directorate was introduced, it was introduced to pacify the women's movement". What a statement! What a condemnation of John Fahey and the entire Greiner Government! They believe that a valuable structure such as the Women's Directorate was established simply to pacify the women's movement; not because it was badly needed or because it was important to promote equality in the workplace, but just to pacify the women's movement. The downgrading of the Women's Directorate could not have come at a worse time for women in New South Wales. In August a press release of the National Pay Equity Coalition stated:
We are a cross roads in industry and award restructuring, and in developing wage classification systems which recognise women's skills and provide pay equity for women workers.
How is it the Government sees fit to close the key unit providing advice on how these issues affect women? This step provides further evidence of the lack of commitment on the part of this Government to improving the employment and training prospects of women in this state.
What is needed in these times is a critical mass of staff doing research and providing specialist advice and resources to Government, employers, trade unions and other groups which are involved in labour market and training reforms.
However, the most important reason why this is the worst possible time to close the Women's Directorate is that this Government has only recently passed the industrial relations legislation, which will bring into place enterprise bargaining for the first time. Even proponents of the bill and its architect, Professor John Niland, admitted that enterprise bargaining will badly affect women's wages. They have admitted that enterprise bargaining will have an effect on people in poor bargaining positions. They hoped that close monitoring mechanisms and good antidiscrimination measures in various Acts such as the Anti-Discrimination Act would be able to redress problems that women will suffer because of the industrial relations legislation. However, if the Government closes the Women's Directorate, whose role is to monitor the role of women in the workplace, and at the same time introduces enterprise bargaining, the result will be a guaranteed recipe for a fall in women's wages, and one that will not be properly monitored.
Have the Government's funding cuts in this area succeeded? Once again, as I said earlier, the Budget must be judged by Nick Greiner's values. Employees within the Department of Industrial Relations are being taken off work they were previously doing in order to work on the projects previously carried out by the Women's Directorate. However, those employees do not have the necessary skills to carry out those tasks. Therefore, they have to be trained, but, as we know, training takes time and money. One is left to wonder what on earth these people were doing before they took over the functions of the Women's Directorate. If their previous work was worth while - we have to assume it was, as nothing has been said in the Budget Speech to the contrary - who now is doing that work? If all the same projects are still being undertaken - and we are assured constantly there has been no downgrading in the functions of the Department of Industrial Relations - why have these changes taken place? Was it an ideological decision to use budget cuts as an excuse to gut the Women's Directorate? Or was it a fumbled attempt at saving money, which failed? The truth is that different people are now doing the same things, but with a newly created Women in Work Unit having to monitor all this activity because the new employees really do not know what they are doing.
The function of the Women's Directorate was not merely to make sure that the functions of the Department of Industrial Relations were carried out on an equitable basis. If the function of the Women's Directorate was only to make certain that goods and services within government departments were directed equally to men and women, that would have been a pathetic vision of what a women's unit should do. The work of the Women's Directorate was, as instanced by the long list of functions I read, about intervening in market processes to make certain that women were not unfairly disadvantaged. These so-called budget savings have gutted the directorate to the extent that nothing more than a damage control operation is now conducted. No more will there be expert programs that were helping to bring about equality for women in the workplace. Once again the warm, caring face of the Greiner Government has been shown to be a cruel mask.
The Hon. S. B. MUTCH
[2.40]: Before addressing the Estimates I should like
to congratulate those honourable members who recently made their maiden - or in the vernacular of some, their first - speeches in this historic Chamber. This landmark occasion in their lives will always provide a reference point in future endeavours; something to hark back to as a constant reminder of their hopes and genuine aspirations expressed with complete sincerity and idealism. Many criticise politicians, and we do serve as convenient scapegoats; but whatever their political creed I have never yet encountered a member of Parliament who is not a true patriot and who personally does not believe that he or she can make a positive contribution to this nation. I was most impressed by the revelations of the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner, who was inspired by the sharpshooting of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird
, when he killed a mad dog with a single shot. As the president of the Loaded Dog Society, which is a group of parliamentarians dedicated to the protection, preservation and propagation of the works of Henry Lawson, I am pleased that Atticus Finch - or Gregory Peck, who starred in the movie version - was not on hand to dramatically curtail the antics of the loaded dog. I should also like to place on record the assurance that the Loaded Dog Society has not been formed as an alternative to the parliamentary prayer group.
As a recently appointed secretary of the Government's arts committee with a particular interest in heritage and historical matters I wish to inform honourable members of some exciting developments in that portfolio under the inspired guidance of the Minister for Arts, the Hon. Peter Collins. In this regard he has been something of a quiet achiever. But the objective truth is - and I am sure many honourable members share this view - the Minister has overseen positive and far-reaching changes in the arts that will make an indelible mark on the cultural heritage of New South Wales. This year the arts budget in New South Wales is $136.49 million. Last year it was $140.79 million. Recurrent funding for 1991-92 will be $113.4 million. For the previous year it was $119.5 million. New South Wales will spend $19.29 per head this financial year on the recurrent costs of cultural activities, which is more than the $15.34 that will be spent by the Commonwealth Government, or the $16.78 that will be spent by the Victorian Government. Recently other States announced their arts budgets. They are as follows: Victoria $116 million; South Australia $66.8 million; Queensland $64.4 million; and Western Australia $50 million. The economic recession has affected adversely all departments, and to make ends meet the Ministry for the Arts has taken steps to introduce admission charges. Three institutions are affected: the Art Gallery, the Australian Museum, and the Powerhouse Museum. The Art Gallery has been able to make ends meet through existing resources; therefore, it will not increase its charges. The Australian Museum will be forced to introduce charges in 1992. The Powerhouse Museum has introduced charges already. It is important to note, however, that most arts institutions throughout the world charge the public a fee. Schoolchildren, pensioners and disadvantaged people in New South Wales will, of course, be entitled to a full range of concessions.
I draw the attention of honourable members to the important work being done by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales. I do not know whether honourable members have visited any of the houses or historic places controlled by the trust, but recently I visited the Hyde Park Barracks and inspected that fantastic exhibition. I remember that as a schoolchild, when I and my classmates were brought to the city by Mr Barrie Prothero, my history teacher, access was not available to the many marvellous buildings to which schoolchildren of today have access. It is extremely important for the culture and heritage of this city that such access continue to be provided through the efforts of the Historic Houses Trust. The trust was established from an earlier organisation set up in 1976 to care for Elizabeth Bay House. In 1980 that organisation
was incorporated by the provisions of the Historic Houses Act 1980. Its legislative objectives were to manage and maintain as house museums the buildings vested in or acquired either as property of the trust or otherwise by the trust, having regard to their historic and architectural interest, to conserve the buildings and manage and maintain their appurtenant grounds. In addition the buildings were to be used to provide such educational and cultural services in relation to those buildings as in the opinion of the trust would increase public knowledge and enjoyment of the buildings and their place in the heritage of the State.
Recently the Historic Houses Trust was given additional responsibility for three inner-city museums: the Justice and Police Museum, Hyde Park Barracks, and First Government House Museum. The Justice and Police Museum is a new departure for the trust in that it has been developed and managed without need for recurrent government funding because of endowments, sponsorships and other generated income. It offers structured education programs for legal studies students focusing on mock trials. At the moment Hyde Park Barracks incorporates an excellent exhibition in the Greenway Gallery which reflects the marketing of the Historic Houses Trust. It is entitled the "Insights Exhibition". I look forward to the new exhibition in February 1993, sponsored by the Macquarie Bank, which will be entitled "The Age of Macquarie". That will reveal to all and sundry a magnificent age of Sydney. The First Government House site has benefited from a $5 million endowment from the Government. I wish to pay tribute to the great work of Nell Sansom, the President of the Friends of First Government House Site. If she has not been awarded one already, she deserves a medal for the work she has done to promote the heritage and history of this nation. The Historic Houses Trust manages a number of other properties including "Meroogal", a property at Nowra; Rouse Hill House; Lyndhurst Resource Centre; Elizabeth Bay House; Elizabeth Farm; Rose Seidler House; Susannah Place; and Vaucluse House. The trust is continually seeking to expand its interests.
I commend the trust for its commitment to excellence and innovation. Its operations strategy may be described as lean and keen. It has 84 staff members, or the equivalent of 76 full-time staff. One of its many initiatives is the computerisation of its collections, consisting of 20,000 items. It is working on a de-accessions list based on the premise that many objects in museums would probably be better placed in other institutions. In 1990-91 the trust brought down its first corporate plan. The central statement of that plan was to conserve and manage with imagination and excellence the cultural heritage of the State as represented by key places and to realise their potential to foster an informed awareness of this heritage. The corporate plan is to be supplemented by the adoption of action plans for each property and strategic plans for support service teams. The marketing plan, which is evidenced by the magnificent brochures that may be obtained in buildings managed by the trust, was prepared in parallel with the trust's first corporate plan. The position statement established by the marketing plan is "We Are Our Past". Priority was given to Vaucluse House, which was identified as having considerable potential for growth. Visitors to Vaucluse House have increased by 32 per cent on last year's figures. However, the trust encourages, wherever practicable, greater access to all its properties. This resulted in total visitor numbers for 1990-91 increasing to 112,000; that is, more than the 92,000 for the 1989-90 year. In addition it is estimated that 200,000 visitors used the grounds at Vaucluse House. Four issues of the trust newsletter were published. The design work was completed to increase the newsletter to an eight-page publication, and a three-monthly seasonal calendar called "What's On?" is now produced.
I should like to commend the volunteer guides. More than 70 volunteers work in the trust. They do a magnificent job in escorting people around and now, in an outreach program, they offer lectures to many organisations within our community. Supplementary to the volunteer guides is the Friends of Historical Houses Trust. As at 30th June membership was 758. Friends of the Historic Houses Trust donated more than $27,000 to the trust for specific projects and were involved in a number of special activities. Another interesting project involving the Ministry for the Arts is the computer assistance program. Many honourable members would not be aware of that program. Over the past six years the ministry has developed a system of financially monitoring the companies that it subsidises. Prior to the introduction of the computer assistance program special conditions of grant were introduced to allow the ministry to establish the financial viability of its clients. However, the clients' accounting systems were found to be inadequate, especially the smaller ones. In 1989 the Minister for Arts approached Apple Computer Australia Pty Limited for sponsorship. Apple Macintosh computers were targeted at this stage because of their relative user-friendliness and reputation for superior desktop publishing capabilities. In May 1990 the first trial systems were installed. The cost of $40,000 was met equally between Apple and the Minister's discretionary allocation.
On 12th October, 1990, the Minister for Arts and the General Manager of Apple Computer Australia Pty Limited, Mr David Strong, officially launched the 1991 computer assistance program with a fund of $60,000; $30,000 to be provided from ministry cultural grants funds and $30,000 to be provided from Apple. The project is going from strength to strength. This year a total of 57 applications were made to join the computer assistance program. Not everyone can be accommodated at once but this year 18 clients will receive packages worth $103,550 at a total cost of $30,210, to the Government. That is an excellent use of money and I look forward to the future expansion of that program. I should like to compliment Peter Watts, Director of the Historic Houses Trust, and commend him and the trust for their excellent work in preserving the heritage and history of Australia. In 1991 the New South Wales tourism award for excellence for culture and heritage attractions was quite rightly awarded to the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales.
I turn now to another area of interest to me in my role as chairman of the government police advisory committee. Despite the emphasis of this Government on prudent management of the State, it is worth noting that the police ministry has been able to achieve, indeed overachieve, its commitment to increase the number of police in New South Wales by 1,600 in its first term. Recently I had the great pleasure of attending, in company with the Hon. D. J. Gay, an attestation parade at the Goulburn police academy. Though we have reached our police numbers objective and the parade was reduced to only two platoons, these young officers passing out did themselves and the police force proud. It was an exciting moment to see the hats flying into the air after the headband covers had been removed and the exhilaration on the faces of these generally young men and women at having passed muster. They enter a police force that looks to the future with a great deal of confidence. Much of this credit goes to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Also, he should be complimented on foreshadowing productivity savings of $12 million for 1991-92, yet ensuring that the capital works budget will provide for major building improvements. Those improvements include $4.671 million for the Wollongong police station and large allocations for Hornsby, Bathurst, Goulburn and the joint emergency services complex at Hurstville. I note also the expenditure of $1.474 million on electronic recording of police interviews. This will
not be a cure-all for the much publicised practice of verballing but it will go a long way towards ensuring the probity of police interviews. In the past few days the Minister has been waxing lyrical about the police open day on 10th November. I attended the Nowra police station -
The Hon. J. R. Johnson:
The Hon. S. B. MUTCH:
To inspect the cells. One never knows where one might end up. I inspected the cells, looked around the police station, and the forensic section, which never fails to horrify me. I had the misfortune to miss the sausage sizzle. From all reports at Nowra the sausage sizzle was well received. A number of people were inspecting the police station while I was in attendance.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson:
The Hon. S. B. Mutch should have tried St Vincent de Paul if he missed out at the police station.
The Hon. S. B. MUTCH:
I went to the local pizza joint earlier. I am not sure of the quality and strength of the pizza but I was not too sure about blowing on the breathalyser as a demonstration. Recently I accompanied the Minister, the commissioner, Chairman of the Police Board and the inspector general on a tour of Dubbo and Broken Hill. It shows the nature of the department and the present Minister that open and frank discussions occurred with police in those regions. It was a great experience for us all, in particular the troops, because they had an opportunity to point out to the Minister and top people in the department how they should be doing their job. Morale in the police force in New South Wales is very strong. This is because the police are aware of the massive commitment of funds this Government has made to law and order. This Government has been true to its Budget pledges. I wish to refer now to an excellent pamphlet entitled "Investing in Community Safety", which I presume honourable members opposite would not bother to read because they would not like its truth. This pamphlet states:
The Greiner Government has proven its commitment to the Police by increasing its budget by over 46 per cent in the past four years. This year more than $973.5 million will be spent ensuring community safety.
It further states:
Under this Government, 30 new Police stations have been opened in four years to service the community and improve accommodation conditions for Police.
Honourable members opposite should be aware that new stations have been opened at Barmedman, Barooga, Bathurst, Bega, Berowra, Cabramatta, Castle Hill, Crescent Head, Culburra, Dareton, City of Sydney and Town Hall Shop Front, Gerringong, Hay, Huskisson, Jerilderie, Hornsby, Katoomba, Menai, Miranda, Moorebank, Nimbin, North Sydney, Port Macquarie, Riverwood, St Marys, Sussex Inlet, Sutherland, Tathra, Ultimo and Wetherill Park. That is not bad for a government that is continually accused of selling off the farm and making cuts. I am deeply aware of the regard and appreciation of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services for volunteer organisations. In 1991-92 the Minister has honoured his undertaking to fund the maritime rescue organisations. The Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol will receive $150,000, the Australian Coast Guard $100,000, and the Volunteer Rescue Association will receive $50,000 to cover administrative expenses. The commitment of the Government in the portfolio of police and emergency services to justice and crime fighting is magnificent.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE
[3.1]: I have much pleasure in supporting the Budget and presenting some observations on it from the Call to Australia group. During the past week discussions have focused on government expenditure, government budgets and whether a private member's bill could affect the allocation of public moneys. Honourable members know that is not possible. The Budget they are debating represents under the Westminster system authorisation by Parliament of payments proposed by the government of the day according to its policies and priorities. The Budget is, in fact, the Appropriation Act, which is passed by Parliament to give legal effect to those payments. The essence of the appropriations process is that public moneys can only be expended by the administrative arm of the Government under the authority of the elected Legislature. In New South Wales the budgetary process requires clear distinction between those sources of funds which should only be used following approval by the Parliament - essentially being derived from taxation, Commonwealth grants, borrowings and certain other Crown transactions - and those funds earned by agencies through the sale of their services.
The former category of funds, that is, those appropriated by Parliament, are treated as an income of the Consolidated Fund. The second category, which consists of user charges, grants from other agencies, donations and so on, under net appropriation methodology are regarded as income of departments. Payments from the Consolidated Fund can only be made under the authority of Parliament. In general, this authority is given through the passing of the annual Appropriation Act. Normally the Appropriation Bill is introduced by the Treasurer. Budget estimates, received by the Parliament, detail expenditure under the department or authority responsible for administering particular programs, and those organisations are grouped under ministerial headings. The New South Wales budgeting system was first implemented in 1986-87 when all allocations from the Consolidated Fund were appropriated on a program basis. Changes were introduced in the 1987-88 budget estimates. The Budget now being reviewed, debated and adopted, includes a form of program budgeting which provides information required for review of budget priorities without sacrificing control of expenditure. The program structures that have been adopted are compatible with organisational boundaries.
Honourable members should understand this procedure in view of the discussion and confusion in the community that occurs when departments are split, as happened during the past few months, and in particular since the last election in the area of health. I do not criticise that but we need to understand what is happening and how that affects the Budget. In New South Wales two hierarchies have been developed. The first hierarchy is goal orientated and is based on policy areas divided into policy sectors, which in turn are divided into programs. The policy areas and policy sectors broadly correspond to the Australian Bureau of Statistics dissection of government expenditure, which relates to international classifications. Level one is a policy area representing the main government concerns and endeavours. Level two is a policy sector, a grouping of related programs representing a particular direction of government within a main area of government endeavour. Level three, or program, is the principal building block where objectives are said to be achieved through a series of activities. Level four, activity, is a group of tasks which contribute towards the achievement of the objective of a program.
The second hierarchy is based on organisational classifications. Level one has a ministerial heading as the highest level at which funds are appropriated and includes administrative units and declared authorities within a Minister's portfolio and within the budget sector. Level two, the organisational unit, consists of an administrative unit or a declared authority in terms of the Public Sector Management Act and the Legislature. The head of that organisational unit is responsible for control of funds and the exercise
of economy in expenditure. Level three, the program area, is the grouping of programs and related goals. Level four, program, and level five, program activities, are similar to the first hierarchy to which I have already referred, that is, a group of tasks which contribute towards the achievement of the objectives of a program. A far more highly organised system is operating within the Government. Ministers responsible for an area of priority and others responsible for implementing those policies act in practical ways. The budget information document contains descriptions of the Budget and total recurrent payments for 1991-92 according to policy area. A total budget expenditure of $16.207 billion is broken down into the categories of general administration and other, 3.8 per cent, or $613 million; law, order and public safety, 11.3 per cent, or $1,831 million; education, 27.6 per cent, or $4,475 million; health, 26.2 per cent, or $4,251 million; recreation and culture, 1.8 per cent, or $289 million; housing community services, 0.9 per cent, or $150 million; welfare, 6.4 per cent, or $1,031 million; economic services, 10.4 per cent, or $1,684 million; debt charges 11.6 per cent, or $1,878 million; general administration and other areas of expenditure, 3.8 per cent, or $613 million - a total of $16.207 billion.
Those figures give an indication of why the Government was concerned about possible changes in its credit rating. Already debt charges swallow up 11.6 per cent - $1,878 million - of the Budget. Any further decline in the credit rating would be serious from the Government's point of view. That is why it is so important for this House and the other place to exercise restraint, though from the Government's point of view it is very difficult, with the membership of both Houses balanced as it is, to maintain a stable and responsible Government that will ensure that the credit rating remains at triple-A for the benefit of the people of New South Wales. One could speak to many aspects of the Budget. I intend to make particular reference to law, order and public safety. It is important to note that funding under that heading is aimed mainly at meeting the costs involved in the State's Police Service, courts administration, and corrective services. It includes also related expenditure for the State Emergency Service, New South Wales Crime Commission, New South Wales Fire Brigades, Department of Bush Fire Services, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales and the Attorney General's Department.
That grouping of organisations has come from the restructuring of government departments and ministries under the administration of law, order and public safety. There has been a significant increase in funding for this aspect. In 1990-91 actual expenditure for the police was $914.5 million; the estimate for 1991-92 is $954.8 million, an increase of 4.4 per cent. In 1990-91 expenditure on law courts and legal services was $351.1 million and the estimate for 1991-92 is $362.9 million, an increase of 3.4 per cent; in corrective services, in 1990-91 actual expenditure was $263.2 million, and the estimate for 1991-92 is $297.5 million, a dramatic increase of 13 per cent, which can be accounted for by the neglect of corrective services that occurred under the previous Government - and not only the former Government but going back 50 to 100 years. There are not many votes in corrective services or prisons and therefore the buildings have been allowed to decay to the stage where they are no longer acceptable to modern society.
Other areas included in the Budget Papers under law, order and public safety are the fire protection services, for which actual expenditure in 1990-91 was $201.8 million. The estimate in this year's Budget is $215.9 million, an increase of 7 per cent. In 1991-92 the expenditure on law, order and public safety is estimated to be $1,831.1 million, an increase of 5.8 per cent on the actual expenditure for 1990-91. The tragedy in society
today to which I shall refer soon is the increase in crime, particularly violent crime. That has put more pressure on the Police Service and corrective services. In the Budget the police policy sector allocation has been increased by 4.4 per cent to $950 million for 1991-92. That provides for the full year effect of the award increases to police and the full year effect of the additional police recruited last year. The effective increase to the promised 1,600 additional police has been achieved by increased police numbers and more effective use of existing police. The Police Service was increased effectively by 1,600 officers by the appointment of 1,071 additional police and by a range of initiatives such as the introduction of flexible rosters and leave buy-back provisions negotiated by the Government as part of the police pay increase package to provide the balance of an effective 529 police. We commend the Government for those initiatives.
As I said, unfortunately there have been and will be for some time serious developments in law and order and, in a sense, crime. In 1988-89 a total of 433,906 offences were reported to the police. That is a large increase when one considers that in 1980 the number of offences reported to the police totalled 243,981. There has been an increase of almost 100 per cent in the period from 1980 to 1988-89. That must put heavy pressure on the Police Service and its officers. The number of various types of offences reported to the police in 1988-89 included theft, 127,287; breaking and entering, 106,430; motor vehicle theft, 46,889; malicious damage to property, 40,844; offences against the person, 28,999; fraud, 20,344; drug offences, 18,037; sexual offences, 4,867; arson, 1,844; driving offences under the Crimes Act, 240. Reported motor vehicle thefts accounted for 11 per cent of all reported offences. One knows from previous debates in this House that motor vehicle thefts have been of great concern and far too many of them still occur in New South Wales.
The metropolitan area of Sydney contains an estimated 62 per cent of the New South Wales population, but 68 per cent of reported offences occurred in that area. That will always apply because often cities become breeding places for crime, especially because of the anonymous nature of city life, which is far different from life in small country centres. In every category except driving offences the Sydney police district, including Central, Darling Harbour, Kings Cross, Redfern, Surry Hills, The Rocks, Ultimo and Waterloo police stations had the highest rate of reported offences per head of population of any police district in New South Wales. The rate of reported offences is high in the Sydney police district because of the low residential population of the city centre. I have mentioned the comparison between metropolitan and country areas. It is interesting to note some of the differences that apply. For example, of the types of offences reported to the police in 1988-89 breaking and entering in the metropolitan area made up 22.58 per cent of offences; in the country the proportion was only 11.93 per cent; for motor vehicle theft in the metropolitan area it was 12.06 per cent, and in the country only 3.16 per cent. That shows that bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to combating crime. Perhaps that is another strong argument for decentralisation, not only to give people better quality of life but also to reduce the number of crimes.
It is important to consider the benefits one receives from budget expenditure. The clear-up rates of offences in 1988-89 were the subject of a recent report. Some are encouraging. For example, the clear-up rate of driving offences was 98.3 per cent and for drug offences 97.5 per cent. But the rate drops dramatically for offences against the person, where the clear-up rate was 64.9 per cent, for sexual offences 60.9 per cent, and for fraud 40.7 per cent. There is a serious decline in the rate for other reported offences, such as malicious damage to property, 17.8 per cent; theft, 14.8 per cent; arson, 7.8 per cent; break and enter, 6.8 per cent; and motor vehicle theft, which is the lowest, only 6 per cent. One could argue that crime pays for those engaged in arson, break and enter
offences and motor vehicle theft. There is little likelihood of their being apprehended by the police. I am sure that the Commissioner of Police, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the new Inspector General of Police will be closely examining how the clear-up rates can be improved, thereby getting better results for the high expenditure. Honourable members should be aware that the police cannot do these things by themselves. There must be a high level of co-operation between the general community and the police, as there is with Operation Noah and another initiative where people report boating offences on the waterways of New South Wales.
It is a pity that there need to be special one-day campaigns to encourage people to make a telephone call to report possible offences. It should be an instant reaction of people to work as part of community policing. The community has an important role to play in providing information. The low clear-up rates reflect the lack of community co-operation and the skill of the criminal element, which is making it more difficult for the police to apprehend criminals and discover their activities. Recently I have read reports on the dramatic increase in insurance fraud related to arson and motor vehicle accidents. The insurance companies seem to have caught up with the perpetrators and in future they will not be successful but will be discovered and punished. The whole community has to pay larger premiums to cover the costs incurred by insurance companies in paying out fraudulent claims.
One of the areas of serious concern in law enforcement is murder. Honourable members will remember the tragic events in Strathfield. In 1988-89, 120 homicides were reported in New South Wales. Eighty-seven of those homicides, or 73 per cent, were murders; the rest were manslaughter. Reported homicides averaged one every three days. However, a comparison of the population density in 1982-83 compared with that of 1988-89 shows that the rate of homicide per head of population has remained at about two per 100,000 people. The highest annual reported homicide rate for the century was about three per 100,000, which occurred before 1920 and has not reoccurred since that time. The clear-up rate in 1988-89 for reported homicides was 85 per cent. That is a commendable level. Though one would like the figure to be 100 per cent, cunning murderers have made it difficult for police to apprehend them. In the past few months the police have cracked down and charged with homicide some who thought they had committed the perfect murder.
Between 1968 and 1986, 85 of those charged with homicide were male and 64 per cent of homicide victims were male. Young adults aged from 20 to 30 years of age made up 38 per cent of those charged with homicide. The suspect and the victim were related in 43 per cent of the cases reported between 1968 and 1986. In 17 per cent of cases the suspect and victim were strangers. In recent days there has been a lot of debate about guns. Guns were the most common weapon used in homicides, and accounted for 35 per cent of the cases reported between 1968 and 1986. Another area of great concern is sexual assault, including rape. The term rape was replaced with sexual assault, categories 1, 2, 3, and 4. In 1988-89 there were 2,220 reported sexual assaults. Of those, 1,281 or 58 per cent, were indecent assaults, which is the lowest category, category 4. The average number of reported sexual assaults a day was about six. Reports of sexual assault involving intercourse or attempted intercourse - categories 1 to 3 - averaged 2.6 a day. It appears from the records that in the three years 1987 to 1989 there was a decrease in the number of reported offences, which is encouraging. We would like that to continue.
Another budget area in which I am interested is corrective services. Corrective services establishments must be available to house the criminals the police are successful
in apprehending. An amount of $297.5 million has been provided for the corrective services policy sector, an increase of 34.3 per cent over expenditure in the past financial year. The increase is due to the full year of operation of the Lithgow Correctional Centre, the John Moroney Correctional Centre, the Parklea prison extensions coming on course, and the significant increase in the prison population, resulting in the need for additional custodial and support staff and additional expenditure on uniforms, food and other provisions for inmates. I note in the budget estimates the department's attempts to cope with the serious overcrowding in the State's prisons. That can be related to the increased levels of police activity to which I have referred, which have resulted in a higher arrest rate for offences involving gaol sentences. Changes have been made to the criminal law and decisions related to life sentence release as well as changes to court and sentencing procedures.
I agree with the efforts being made by the current Minister for Justice to pursue suitable alternatives to full-time imprisonment. This follows what I regard as a very important biblical principle - restitution. Persons engaged in crime should not simply be fined or imprisoned; they should be involved in a program of restitution to the victim so that the victim not only has a sense of justice being done but also sees it to be happening. Also the Ministry of Corrective Services is seeking to expand the community service order legislation to encompass offenders under Federal laws and the opening of more day attendance centres and home detention centres. A number of other programs have been introduced. These should be given a fair opportunity to be carried through. It is a pity that we need prisons, but that is the reality of our modern society. It is far better to have preventative policies rather than ones based on punishments such as locking people up in gaol.
I note that in New South Wales 3,239 people were sent to prison for less than one year in 1988, but on census day only 610 short sentence prisoners were actually in prison. In addition to 3,948 sentenced prisoners, New South Wales prisons contained a large number of people - namely, 726 - on remand awaiting a court hearing. No doubt, that is putting very heavy pressure on our prison system. On the legal status of prisoners as a percentage of prison population, 78.8 per cent are under sentence, 5 per cent are awaiting appeal and 15.5 per cent are on remand. Obviously, the longer the delays in court cases, the higher the number of people in our prisons on remand. A number of such people may be found to be innocent when their case comes before the court.
Of every 100 prisoners 95 are male. There are 216 male prisoners for every 100,000 males living in New South Wales and 12 female prisoners for every 100,000 females living in New South Wales. Almost half of all prisoners were in the 20 years to 29 years age group. Unfortunately, one of the developments that I have noticed in recent years is the higher number of Aborigines in prison. The imprisonment rate of Aborigines has been about 12 times higher than that of the non-Aboriginal population. For every 100,000 Aborigines, 1,206 were in prison on census day. For every 100,000 non-Aborigines, 99 were in prison on census day. This is a very depressing picture. We all know that a great deal is being done to try to change that situation, but there do not appear to be any dramatic results at this stage. Of the sentences of prisoners in New South Wales gaols, 10.7 per cent are under periodic detention; 15.5 per cent are imprisoned for up to one year; 29 per cent are imprisoned for one to five years; 21.8 per cent are imprisoned for five to 10 years; 17 per cent are imprisoned for 10 years plus; and 6.1 per cent are imprisoned for life. Six in every 100 sentenced prisoners are sentenced to life, or the Governor's pleasure. It is difficult to reduce expenditure in such areas without some dramatic changes in attitude or behaviour in our society.
One tragic development is the number of young people coming into contact with either the Police Service or corrective services. There are some indications that young people are more often the victims of crime than any other age group. Of the 151,200 victims of crime in the 12 months to April 1990, 32.5 per cent were young people aged 15 years to 24 years. In many ways young people are the majority in both categories - they are more often the victims of crime and they are becoming more involved in court appearances and other such areas. For example, young people are highly represented in lower court appearances, accounting for 41 per cent of all lower court convictions. Fifty-six per cent of these convictions relate to drink driving offences. Crimes most likely to involve young offenders include theft, assault and property damage. The number of committals has fallen by 32 per cent, from 1,168 in 1988 to 1,071 in 1990. This is an encouraging sign. In 1990 approximately 2,006 young people aged under 25 years were in the New South Wales prison system, which represents 31.5 per cent of the State's prison population. More needs to be done in that area. Other honourable members and I are involved with the Standing Committee on Social Issues, which is looking at the whole question of juvenile justice and related matters. We hope that in due course we can assist in that situation in our State.
It is very important that, in trying to deal with the problems facing our society, whether in the area of law and order or corrective services, we face up to the question of what the basis of laws in our State is and how we can encourage people to be more responsible. I have endeavoured to talk about community standards, Christian values and so on in my time in this House. It may seem strange, but in many ways the key to reducing budget expenditure and therefore pressure on the community through taxation, whether Federal or State, is to have a change of attitude within the community. This can be done to a degree through education, but it also needs to be done through a reaffirmation of basic principles and values in our society. I note that when the Queen takes part in the coronation service she makes an oath. It includes sentiments which contain some important principles. She has to do the following:
(1) to govern the peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the dominions etc. belonging or pertaining to them according to their respective laws and customs;
(2) to cause law and justice in mercy to be executed in all judgments, to the Sovereign's power;
(3) to maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the protestant reformed religion established by law, to the utmost of the Sovereign's power;
(4) to maintain and preserve inviolable the settlement of the Church of England, and its doctrine, worship, discipline and government as by law established in England -
That is applicable to the United Kingdom. It continues:
(5) to preserve unto the bishops and clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them.
In conclusion I should like to repeat the third of the duties imposed by the coronation oath, which is:
to maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the protestant reformed religion established by law, to the utmost of the Sovereign's power;
As all honourable members know, the laws of God are contained in the Bible. I know some people regard the Bible as having little relevance today. I do not believe that to be the case. When John Wycliffe, a famous reformer, was putting the Bible into common English for the working man, he said:
This bible is for the government of the people, by the people and for the people.
That phrase or a variation of it was used by Abraham Lincoln. However, I did not realise that its origin was in relation to the Bible. Certain of the values and a degree of the security contained in the Bible have been continued. Call to Australia believes the Bible is inspired by God, the Creator, who inspired writers such as Moses, the prophets, the apostles and our Lord himself with his words. I believe the Bible should be restored to its rightful place as the basis of our laws and the conduct of those laws in our society. As a result of that, the community benefit greatly. For example, if those principles were taught both in the family and in our schools, they would play an important part in the continuity of our society. Because of the emphasis in the Old Testament on laws, some people think that the laws in the New Testament at the time of the coming of Christ are of less importance. That is not so. The Gospel according to St. Matthew 5:17 quotes our Lord Jesus Christ as saying:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.
That does not mean that we should live in a legalistic society but that everyone should have an understanding of the basis of that society and its laws so that the situation referred to in the Bible by one of the prophets can be prevented. That prophet said that whenever Israel was beset by problems, it was because every man did what was right in his own eyes, not in the eyes of God and not according to God's will. That results in anarchy, chaos, lawlessness, crime, violence et cetera. In Isaiah 5:20, 5:21 and 5:23 the prophet Isaiah says:
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deny justice to the innocent.
If our energies could be used to strengthen the foundations of our society, would be more law abiding and there would be far less need for huge sums to be spent on law enforcement and corrective services. In other words, we have to concentrate on preventive policies rather than attempt to intervene with policies that deal with the end results. On behalf of Call to Australia, I have much pleasure in supporting the Budget.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES
[3.43]: First I should like to congratulate the new members - the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, the Hon. J. W. Shaw, the Hon. Patricia Forsythe, the Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann, the Hon. D. F. Moppett, the Hon. Jan Burnswoods, the Hon. J. F. Ryan, the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner, the Hon. E. M. Obeid and the Hon. L. D. W. Coleman - on their election to this House. The House has had an influx of apparently highly intelligent new members and there will be some interesting debates in the next few months or years, as the case may be. No doubt honourable members will recall that I made my previous Budget speech on 13th November, 1990. In that speech I forecast that the budget deficit for the last financial year would be between $750 million and $1 billion. I regret to say that that estimate was all too accurate. The government Finance Statistics Estimates for 1991-91, Budget Paper
No. 6, reveal on page 4 that the overall deficit of the State sector for 1990-91 was $950 million. In my previous Budget speech, I forecast that receipts from stamp duties would reach approximately $1.847 billion. The actual figure was $1,871,613,000. I was only about $25 million out. I forecast also that receipts from the payroll tax would not exceed $2.5 billion. In fact receipts exceeded $2.5 billion by $83 million. Those figures were depressed from the original estimates and I regret to say that the same applies this year.
No doubt honourable members would have read the Government Gazette
of 8th November and seen that the current receipts are way down on expectations. The receipts for the quarter ended 30th September were $3,459,137,000. That compares with a figure of $3,475,940,000 for the same period last year. Those figures reveal that the receipts are down when compared with the same period last year. The total recurrent receipts for 1990 were $15,358,404,000. If one works out the three-monthly figure and extrapolates that to the annual figure, one comes up with a figure for current receipts for this financial year of $15,284,160,000 which, regrettably, is $1.240 billion below the forecast. I sincerely hope that those figures are not correct. If they are correct, on those figures alone the deficit for this financial year will be $2.5 billion. I hope that somehow the figures are wrong or that in some way figures which should have been included have been omitted. However, I believe that the figures are accurate and the deficit for this financial year will be possibly in excess of $2.5 billion. That will be a real tragedy for New South Wales.
Expenditure on recurrent services was forecast to increase 6.8 per cent this financial year. If one looks at the figures on page 9,333 of the Government Gazette
, one will see that the recurrent expenditure figures for the quarter ended 30th September are $3,891,411,000. That is a significant increase on last year's figure for the same period which was $3,220,826,000. It is in fact a 20 per cent increase on last year's figure and is three times the 6.8 per cent forecast increase. Again I hope that these figures are incorrect or that some figures have been included which, for example, inflate the figures for the first three months. If that is not the case, the deficit will balloon to something like $3.5 billion to $4 billion. I cannot possibly believe that the deficit will be between $3 billion and $4 billion, but it is clear that it will be considerably in excess of $1 billion, most likely considerably in excess of $2 billion and more than likely the deficit will be $2.5 billion for this financial year.
From those figures alone one can see there is no money to throw around; there is no spare money in the kitty. It may be that the Government will have to cut back on expenditure that has already been committed, and that will result in a further loss of jobs and further anguish in the community. The Government has two options: one is to go for the $2.5 billion deficit and wear that and the result from that in the lower House if it is seen to be gross mismanagement of the economy of the State; the other is to cut back and receive the slings and arrows from outraged taxpayers and residents. To be running this State in the worst recession for 60 years is not the ideal situation to be in. Frankly, were I Mr Greiner I would be looking for a job elsewhere, perhaps in a bank in America. I emphasise that the situation in New South Wales is not of the Premier's doing. All States are suffering and I do not believe it is the fault of this Premier or the fault of the other premiers. The fact is the economy is in the worst state it has been for at least 60 years and we are in strife. Therefore, it is not a good time to be Premier of this State. Were I Bob Carr I would not be hastening to become Premier of this State for at least another 18 months until this mess has sorted itself out. It is not a pretty picture and I hope the next quarterly figures published in the Government Gazette
show an improvement, otherwise there will have to be severe tightening of belts throughout the State, presumably including this House.
What hope is there for the future? Recently the National Business Bulletin
conducted a survey of the banking sector which is also in severe strife. The banking sector suffered a 36 per cent decrease in operating profit after tax last year. Foreign banks lost a total of $741 million after tax. Loan write-offs for the banks totalled $4.5 billion and that is an extraordinary amount. Specific and general provisions for doubtful debts are in excess of $6.5 billion. One can see from the half-yearly results of the ANZ Bank, the National Australia Bank and Westpac that they are all in strife. The half-yearly after tax profits to 31st March for the ANZ Bank were $104 million which is a decrease in operating profit after tax, compared with the previous year, of 72.4 per cent, and that is a significant decline. Doubtful debts expense for the ANZ Bank for that half year was $534.7 million. Non-accrual loans are $4,655 million - an extraordinary amount. Non-accrual loans as a percentage of shareholders' equity, which is an alarming figure, is 105.7 per cent. In other words the ANZ Bank is not the best positioned of the large banks.
The operating profit after tax for the National Australia Bank was $360 million for the half year to 31st March and that is a decrease over the previous period of 17.7 per cent. Their doubtful debts expense for the half year was $455 million. The non-accrual loans held by the National Australia Bank amounted to $2,349 million. The non-accrual loans as a percentage of shareholders' equity was 36.2 per cent which is very much lower than the figure for the ANZ Bank. Westpac is also having great difficulties. Its profits after tax for the half year to 31st March were $215.9 million - a drop of 39.2 per cent over the previous period. Doubtful debts amount to $551.6 million. Non-accrual loans are $3,242 million which is 45.7 per cent as a percentage of shareholders' equity. These three banks alone have non-accrual loans exceeding $10 billion. The banking sector is certainly in a great deal of strife. It is managing to hold the line, but only just. Were the banks to write off the loans in a 12-month period, they would be effectively insolvent.
Residential building approvals have recently shown a slight upturn, and it is about the only sector that has shown an improvement. There was a modest increase in house building activity throughout Australia for the June 1991 quarter. There was a 2.4 per cent increase in Australian Bureau of Statistics building activity figures with 121,260 dwellings started during the 1990-91 financial year, consistent with industry expectations. Nevertheless, it is still at the bottom of the trough. However, non-residential activity is still flat and will remain so for at least another two years. In August private detached home approvals fell by 4 per cent or 9,113 after very significant growth in the previous month. It is very likely that home approvals will increase, probably in the first quarter of next year, and this will lead to a slight improvement in the revenues of this Government. Nevertheless, it is about the only sector where one can see any hope in the short term.
Recently the National Business Bulletin
undertook a survey of small business. They went to 254 small businesses to determine their attitudes and to determine how they were faring in this worst recession we have had for 60 years - we should be calling it a depression. The majority of small businesses favoured a consumption tax. They are not shedding staff, although they have shed staff previously. They are optimistic about the economy generally. They have no contact with trade unions. They are underprepared for award restructuring. They have a low opinion of government agencies. They get a hard time from the banks. They work extremely long hours. They cannot finance their own superannuation and they want more help from industry associations. An overwhelming 88 per cent of replies came from owners or proprietors of small businesses and 12 per cent from managers. They agree that this is the worst recession for 60 years.
Of the respondents 45 per cent said that their sales for 1990-91 were down compared with the previous year, and 54 per cent reported a profit drop. However, 61 per cent believe that sales will stay steady or will increase in 1992, although only 48 per cent expect the same for profits. There is clear support for the Federal Opposition's consumption tax policy, with 65 per cent saying that it should be introduced in their industry and 64 per cent approving of a consumption tax for their own businesses. Almost two out of three of those polled said they were disadvantaged by being unable to increase prices to offset the cost of staff superannuation, training levies, land and council taxes, and early payment of company tax. Financing is a worsening problem for about 30 per cent of small operators.
Most small businesses suffer from slow payments by government departments and other businesses. They suffer from bad debts and from changing demands by the banks which themselves are having severe problems. For more than 50 per cent of respondents total borrowings were equivalent to 20 per cent of their annual sales, and that is a significant level. Without significant knowledge of industry factors it would appear that the rest are facing heavier than average borrowings. Another revealing insight into financial management was that only 49 per cent of respondents received monthly profit and loss balances which are vital for financial planning. This clearly indicates that some of these businesses should get their acts together to ensure they employ good accountants if they are to survive this depression. Nevertheless, 43 per cent said they were optimistic about the prospects for recovery in their own industry in the year ahead. They were confident of the general upswing in the economy; that is fascinating. Almost one in five of the small businesses, or about 17 per cent, shed staff in the past 12 months. This is particularly true of firms that have six to 50 employees. The survey showed that 21 per cent of those who had six to 10 staff last year now have one to five staff; 29 per cent of those who had 11 to 20 staff last year now have six to 10; and 29 per cent of those who had 21 to 50 staff last year, now have only 11 to 20 staff. However, they say the job losses appear to have stabilised.
The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. D. J. Gay):
Order! Pursuant to sessional orders, business is interrupted for the taking of questions.