In recent years government policies to restrain public sector spending, particularly the application of an annual `efficiency dividend' of 1.25 per cent, have led to a reduction in the funds available to manage the Gardens. Various measures have been taken to cope with the impacts of funding reductions and to minimise their effects on the operation of the Gardens: maintenance in the less-used areas of the Gardens has been reduced, research activities have been severely curtailed, and activities in the Nursery have been scaled down considerably. Savings have also been achieved by contracting a number of routine tasks (such as lawn mowing) to the private sector where this has been shown to be cost effective.
Recent government policy changes have resulted in the operations of the Gardens being categorised as a program activity, thus exempting them from the `efficiency dividend'. Although these changes will provide some relief from further cuts, it must be recognised that the exemption does not apply to salary funds or funds for new capital works, which are separately appropriated for approved major projects. As a consequence, an imbalance is developing in the Gardens budget and a shortage in salary funds is impeding the efficiency of operations. This situation is exacerbated by the system for financing new developments, whereby bids for the construction funds and for continuing operation and maintenance of the same development are considered separately.
New developments and programs detailed in this Plan must be guaranteed funding in their entirety; that is, funding for continuing maintenance and management as well as initial establishment costs must be assured before the developments and programs are begun. It is unlikely that all the additional funding required to implement this Plan will be provided by the Commonwealth Government, and other new sources may need to be found. Potential ways of obtaining additional funding will be explored and pursued where these are consistent with the objectives of the Gardens and with government policy (see Sections 6.2 and 6.3).
During the currency of this Plan of Management available resources will be allocated to best meet the range of priorities identified. If funding levels fall significantly short of requirements it may be necessary to review management arrangements to ensure that the Gardens' resources are not compromised and essential programs are continued.