Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 123..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
of areas, but most specifically in mental health. What was the level of expenditure by the Liberal government?
Mr Corbell: He wants to increase it even more.
MR STANHOPE: Yes. What was the level of expenditure by the previous government? Why was the level of expenditure by the previous government the worst in Australia? Over the last four years we have increased expenditure on mental health by a lot more than 6.5 per cent a year. I would have to defer to the Minister for Health in relation to the extent or the level of the increase in expenditure on mental health, but it is massive. Even then, it has not brought us up to the top of pile in Australia.
Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question was not about the previous Liberal government's expenditure; it is about this government's expenditure, and why they have lived beyond their means.
MR SPEAKER: Yes, I heard. The question was: why are you living beyond your means? I think the expenditure that the Chief Minister is mentioning goes to that issue.
MR STANHOPE: I am giving you a historical explanation as to why we have been spending at the levels we have. It goes very much to what we inherited four years ago. You cannot ask me questions-"Why are you spending this much money? Why has your expenditure increased by this much?"-without expecting me to provide some explanation of the base that we inherited after seven years of government by you.
We can go through them, as you have invited me to do-and I will. You have asked me specifically why we spend these amounts and why we spent at this level. We now spend, in say mental health, at a level we do because you underfunded mental health so grievously over a full seven years. We now know the extent to which you underfunded, for instance, emergency services. In the last three years we have increased expenditure on emergency services, particularly around bushfire preparation and in relation to the capacity of the Emergency Services Authority, by $134 million.
Opposition members interjecting-
MR SPEAKER: Order! Chief Minister, resume your seat for a moment. The question has been asked; the minister is attempting to answer it. I am not going to put up with continuous interjections.
MR STANHOPE: You cannot possibly sit there, and accept that we have spent an additional $134 million on emergency services, and claim that, when we took over government, took over emergency services, it was all hunky dory; that the $134 million was excess to requirements; that it was not needed. You cannot sit there and pretend that the additional $70 to $80 million we invested in disability services as a result of the Gallop report was additional to requirement. It was a need that we inherited from you.
Go through it. What did we inherit? We inherited a situation where we have had to invest $134 million in emergency services because of your neglect; $70 million to $80 million in relation to disability services because of your neglect; because of your neglect we have had to significantly increase expenditure in mental health to get us at least on par