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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (30 May) . . Page.. 1225..

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.50): Mr Speaker, I wish to speak to the amendment. I certainly enjoyed the rather obscure bow that was drawn by the Minister for Education and Training in a desperate attempt to try and put a measure of spin on GST that he and his friend in Sydney—

Mr Barr: You should ask John Stone about the GST.

MR MULCAHY: Apparently we have got John Stone as another great proponent of those views. It is amusing that despite the fact that Mr Stanhope was full of praise for the budget—although he wants to delete that from my motion—and despite the fact that he is full of praise for the generosity of the Howard government, particularly in relation to the GST windfalls that continue to save the neck of the territory government with its high-spending practices, the obscure line is presented to us that somehow we are all worse off under the Howard government. I am struggling to find who is worse off as a result of what the federal government has done. When I look at some of the things it has done, I really do struggle with those sorts of claims.

Student union fees will not be compulsory, and I know that will undermine a lot of Labor resources. I can understand the concern the Labor Party has about losing funds that were being siphoned into all sorts of causes. Of course, the minister, as a former treasurer of a student union, would know, as we all do, the way things operate in universities. I know that will be tough because I suppose funding federal demands and the like will now have to come from the union movement. However, the fact of the matter is that it is not unreasonable at all that students who want to use the services offered by student unions should pay for them.

It was extraordinary that Mr Stanhope, in speaking to this matter before he moved his amendment, started off on a positive note but then raised the alleged opportunities that had been missed. I am not surprised that, given the problems we are facing, he spoke about water infrastructure. He also raised the dental program issue in respect of which, despite clearly being a state responsibility, the commonwealth has again stepped into the breach. He mentioned early childhood education. He spoke about the National Convention Centre. At least there has been a solid initiative from this side of the Assembly on a proposal in respect of the National Convention Centre. Apart from there being a patch-up job down at the convention centre, we are waiting to hear what the minister for tourism is going to do about bringing conventions to Canberra, because that is where the premium money can be accessed. It is extraordinary that Mr Stanhope has put up an amendment that just basically praises his government instead of looking at the real substance of the motion that I put forward. For that reason the opposition will not support his amendment.

It is interesting to note that when he talked about supposed deficiencies in the budget, he glossed over the millions of dollars of commonwealth funding that is currently being blocked by the Steve Bracks's Victorian government. We first thought that this move was some political stunt to try to improve the outlay for Victoria, but it has now become an entrenched situation, to the enormous detriment of particularly those who are beneficiaries of the Murray-Darling basin. Of course, Canberra is the largest inland city that is impacted by the state of the Murray-Darling basin. However, the $10 billion Howard government initiative in relation to work on this water system is being blocked by the Victorian Labor government.

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