Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2624..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
I am concerned that using the wage price index to calculate annual general rates rather than the consumer price index will further exacerbate the budget's negative impacts on the unemployed and on people with fixed incomes. These fixed incomes are typically indexed to the consumer price index, which historically lags behind the wage price index. Using the CPI also seems to fail to take into account the fact that the top income brackets are growing at a much faster rate than the bottom.
There are other issues I can touch on in my time allotment. Given that the ACT's reinsurance companies will not go near home birth indemnity insurance and given that it is a frequently expressed desire of women in the Australian Capital Territory to have access to home births and other midwife-led births, I urge the ACT government to lobby strongly at COAG and at other venues for a national scheme to put in place insurance indemnity cover for suitably qualified midwives. I suggest, too, that it work with the southern area health bodies to see if it is practical to develop a region wide scheme, potentially overcoming some of the obstacles presented by our small size. We go regional when it suits us. Why not for women who want home births?
I wonder if the insurance office was asked to comment when the government decided to include penalty provisions in the Gungahlin Drive extension construction contracts despite the clear and present danger the construction would be seriously delayed by well-founded court challenges.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (12.14): The Treasury is at the heart of the budget, and one of the big concerns that took away from the committee hearings was the failure of Treasury to answer many questions. I will just give one example. The Treasury was asked to give us their opinion of the government's business case on the prison. It is a large expenditure item amounting to $128 million worth of capital works plus ongoing recurrent expenditure. They failed to answer that question and they refused to release the documents. The great shame is that, if the government's case was solid, then I bet those documents would have been released at the drop of a hat. All one can surmise from the failure of Treasury to answer questions and to release documents is that they actually have no confidence in the submissions that have been put forward by the government as to the viability of the prison. That then reflects on the whole budget.
There are a large number of assumptions in this budget. When you drill down on them they are certainly not viable in the long term. It is interesting to look at the government's own approach on page 8 of budget paper No 3 and how they get to a surplus. The document states:
The measures in the 2006-07 budget ensure that the budget will be balanced after land sales in 2007-08, and by 2008-09 the budget will be in surplus without relying on land sales receipts.
So what are we comparing? It is not just apples and oranges. Somebody has thrown in cumquats and mandarines. The Treasurer is not consistent in the way that he presents information to the public. That is disturbing. If we are going to have a different set of rules for last year, a new set of rules for this year, a set of rules for the year after that and a different set of rules for the year after that again just to make the Treasurer look good,