Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 1856..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
council of the ACT predicted vacancy rates within Civic of 15 per cent within five months. The vacancy rate is 1.3 per cent and falling, but the property council's predictions—its crystal ball, its magic wand—forecast, for now, vacancy rates of 15 per cent.
Yet last week I saw the property council out there again castigating the government for the fact that our conveyancing revenues were up 32 per cent—that there had been a massive spike in conveyancing activity and turnover in the March quarter, a spike that we should have predicted despite the fact that they did not and despite the fact that two years ago they were predicting 15 per cent. Imagine it! Two years ago, the property council, the peak organisation with the territory, predicted a 15 per cent vacancy rate in the commercial property market in the heart of the city. They are out by 14 per cent—massive in the context of commercial accommodation.
The major changes within the budget are around the strength of this economy, something of which we can all be proud and something of which I am proud.
Mr Mulcahy: You can thank John Howard.
MR STANHOPE: We thank John Howard, I understand, for everything except interest rates. Interest rates are the responsibility of the states and territories. What if I offered Peter Costello and John Howard the choice that I would accept responsibility for interest rates if I could also accept responsibility for low unemployment and high participation rates? Let us deal this out. The commonwealth believes that the states and territories should accept responsibility for interest rates and the recent increase in interest rates. I am prepared to strike a deal with Peter Costello and John Howard on this. I will take interest rate rises if I can also take responsibility for low unemployment and high participation rates. (Time expired.)
MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, according to your own figures for 2006-07, you have taken out of the pockets of Canberrans $200 million more than you budgeted for in the 2006-07 financial year. Despite these results, you have ruled out reopening any of the schools that you closed last year or propose to close this year or next year. Why don't you reconsider opening schools, given that the forecast that your decision was based on has now proved to be wrong?
MR STANHOPE: This is consistent with the question that I was initially asked by Mr Stefaniak, around false suggestions in the preamble to the question. As I indicated then, the rationale for the decisions which the government took in last year's budget was around the need for efficiency and the need to take some hard and unpalatable decisions—decisions which, through the subsequent debate, we now know that the Liberal Party in government would not have the fortitude or the courage to take.
If anything has been revealed over the last year, in the context of the debate that we had on last year's functional review and last year's budget, it is that the Liberal Party in government would not have either the capacity or the courage to take the decisions that this government took. We have here a shadow treasurer who spouts the need for