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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 1931..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The big difference between us is that in government you talked but never funded, whereas in government we talk and put our money where our mouth is. We are funding an extra 60 police. Mr Pratt, when he stands up today and responds to the appropriation bill, is going to tell us that, in the circumstances, he would not have funded the extra 60 police. That is what he is going to stand up and say. In light of the commentary on our budget from the Liberal Party in the last two days, Mr Pratt is going to stand up today and say, or perhaps his leader will say it for him, that they would not have funded those police.

Mr Mulcahy: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand why latitude is being extended but, in terms of relevance, I was specific about the claim on payroll tax. I provided specific data from page 186 of BP3. I ask that you direct the Chief Minister to respond to the issue of the unsubstantiated claim about payroll tax.

MR SPEAKER: Stick to the subject matter of the question, please, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: I will, Mr Speaker, but it is important to provide some context in responding to such questions. It is relevant that we have a very narrow revenue base. These things are relevant in the context of our capacity as a small jurisdiction, reliant very much on services and these own-source revenues. These are very relevant considerations in relation to the situation in which we find ourselves, particularly in an environment in which, since self-government, through successive governments we have provided government services at a cost of at least 20 per cent above national benchmarks or national averages. Yet we have this narrow revenue base.

There is an enormous gap between the revenues we raise, including the revenues we receive from the commonwealth through the GST, and the level at which we deliver services. In this budget, this government has grasped the nettle, as other governments would have but for a variety of reasons did not. I think that a most significant reason that other governments have not been able to grasp the nettle that has now been grasped has been minority government. It cannot be denied the damage that minority government has done to the capacity of successive governments to manage budgets within the territory. Trevor Kaine is the finest example of that. Trevor Kaine tried in 1991-92 when he was Chief Minister and Gary Humphries was his minister for eduction to do some of the restructuring, consolidation and reconfiguration of education that we are now pursuing.

Mrs Dunne: Who stopped him?

MR STANHOPE: Mrs Dunne asks who stopped him. We were all complicit, through minority government. You make my case for me, Mrs Dunne. I am prepared to stand here and say that the Labor Party has been complicit and it causes each of us, I am sure, some discomfiture to have to acknowledge in relation to the nature of adversarial politics and minority government that decisions that would better have been taken and allowed to run have not been taken and allowed to run. The issue in relation to schools is a prime example. We now know, each of us, and we have always known it, that if Trevor Kaine and, I must say, his minister for education, the now Senator Humphries, had received more support from the Assembly and the community the extent of the decision in relation to schools that we take in this budget would have been lessened.


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