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Budget for Statistics department is cut by 47%

The Department of Statistics had its budget cut by 47 percent compared to last year mainly because the 2010 Census is due to conclude at the end of this month, the Senate heard.

Progressive Labour Party Senate leader David Burch said the conclusion of the survey was the main reason that a cost saving of $2.8 million had been pledged.

A further $174,000 has been cut from the advertising and promotions budget as the Census process is almost done.

And $191,000 was chopped in comparison to last year “primarily from relinquishing a post,” according to Sen Burch.

However, the news attracted criticism from Opposition Senate Leader Jeanne Atherden. She said the fact the Census is the sole reason for the change in year-on-year budget figures “creates the impression there has been a saving when there hasn't.”

Sen Burch said he did not know how to reply to the criticism.

“I don't have anything to say. The vast majority of that amount is related to the Census. Her opinion is that's not saving money. Well that opinion stands, I guess,” he said.

Senator David Burt went on to praise the Ministry of Environment, Planning, Infrastructure and Strategy for saving money by leading by example.

He said staff have been encouraged to turn lights off and set thermostats at an efficient level to conserve energy.

The Ministry also plans to achieve an $822,000 reduction in last year's budget through other means including decreasing staff and the services of consultants, according to Sen Burt.

Sen Atherden questioned why training has been allocated an additional $23,000 to the Ministry's Budget.

Sen Burt said the original amount of zero, which was amended to $3,000, didn't give Government funds to do anything. “But this will allow us to do something,” he said of the increase.

She also questioned how Government could set aside $76,000, a difference of 64 percent from the original Budget of $214,000 in 2010-11, for professional services.

There is a “significant portion” of planning applications that have not been determined in 24 weeks, said Sen Atherden. This was an “indication” that a review of the planning process was needed.

She added: “Maybe some faster tracking and maybe some advising of people in how to get their applications in” would also improve the process.

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Published March 25, 2011 at 10:01 am (Updated March 25, 2011 at 10:00 am)

Budget for Statistics department is cut by 47%

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