Evidence given to a Parliamentary Committee confirmed that some Budget cuts had not been detailed by the Rann Government in its Budget documents.
“Allan Holmes, CEO of the Department for Environment and Natural Resources, told the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee they couldn’t explain why Treasury had excluded come of their Budget cuts from the Budget documents,” Shadow Minister for Finance Rob Lucas said today.
“Mr Holmes confirmed that a $1.8 million cut over four years in funding for the ‘One Million Trees’ programme would now be funded by robbing $1.8 million from the Planning and Development Fund, which is used to save open spaces in developments.
“So, at a time when there is pressure on the Rann Government to increase spending on protecting open spaces, it is obviously in the Government’s political interest to conceal an effective $1.8 million cut in funding available to protect open spaces.
“Similarly, a $10.3 million Budget savings measure labelled ‘depreciation savings through asset rationalisation and other measures’ had not been detailed in the Budget documents.
“Mr Foley needs to explain how many other Budget cuts which were recommended by the Sustainable Budget Commission and agreed to by the Labor Government have not been detailed in the Budget documents.
“Mr Foley also needs to explain why these cuts have been hidden from public disclosure by not detailing them in the Budget documents.”
Other evidence given by Mr Holmes included:
• A $26 million cut over four years to Natural Resource Management Boards, which will inevitably lead to increased levies on families over the next four years;
• A blowout in coastal pipeline project which was expected to cost $17 million for 22km of pipeline, but would now cost $23 million for only 9km of pipeline;
• Increased revenue of $8.3 million over three years to be collected to pay for the blowout and probably done through another increase in the Natural Resources Management Levy charged to families in the metropolitan area;
• Budget cuts will lead to the loss of about 140 FTE jobs;
• By 2013-14, revenue generated from park fees and leases will increase by 25 per cent – or $2.5 million per annum – the parks likely to be targeted for increased fees will be Belair National Park, Lincoln National Park and Innes National Park; and,
• A key performance indicator which showed whether the Government had been doing the required level of ‘fire burn-offs’ to reduce bushfire risk had been removed from the Budget documents.