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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (15 March) . . Page.. 651..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

government to consider more progressive taxes, to call on the government to establish a comprehensive concessions policy and to request that the government consider the feasibility of incorporating environmental concerns into revenue-raising measures.

Here is something I said in my December speech about the utilities bill:

The current concessions regime is a mess. There are a number of cases where people who do not need the government's help get it anyway and people who need help are not eligible ... Anyone who wants information about what they are eligible for had better have plenty of time on their hands to search through the maze of government publications. It is high time this government finished the concessions review it was conducting between 2002 and 2004.

Instead of seeing a government that acknowledges its budgetary pressures and uses the opportunity to develop or alter revenue measures that also seek positive social and economic impacts, in conjunction with the community, what we have here is a government whose guiding principle is rapidly looking like it is "stay in power at all costs". Instead of dealing with this complex problem over a period of time and seeking the best outcomes for the community it serves with the community it serves, we have a government that has made blinding decisions in one fell swoop in order to give itself maximum scope for pork-barrelling in 2008 in order to win another election. In the absence of compelling and publicly examinable evidence to the contrary, it is open for people to think that the group whose primary interests were served by the 2006-07 budget was the Stanhope government.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (4.27): Mr Speaker, the Chief Minister has outlined why this government increased fees and charges in the last budget. We all know that the revenue from these measures will fund high-quality services provided by the ACT government. The ACT community is well served by ACT government services, but these come at a cost, which continues to increase. The Liberals have proposed to overturn the increases in fees and charges by cutting a significant proportion of government revenue, estimated conservatively at around 12 per cent of that gained from taxes, fees and charges.

The question needs to be asked as to what services the Liberals would cut in order to compensate for these voluntary reductions in revenue. All the Liberals have come up with is to pledge to abandon one-off capital projects such as the prison and the arboretum. The prison will be finished by the time of the next election and something has to be done with the arboretum site. If not an arboretum, then the question has to be asked: what shall we put there? This is a short-sighted approach. Both the prison and the arboretum are one-off capital initiatives. They cannot be set aside and turned into ongoing expenditure.

I am sure I need not remind my Liberal colleagues that revenue is necessary to fund recurrent expenditure—or maybe I do. Abandoning a $100 million construction project does not make up for relinquishing the same amount of revenue in perpetuity. This revenue is necessary to fund primary health care and education, police on the streets, our ambulances, our hospitals, mowing of grass verges and removal of household garbage year after year.


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