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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 2336..

MR STANHOPE: The circumstance or circumstances in relation to the receipt of budget submissions are the same for all submissions received by the government in relation to any consultation process. The invitation for submissions is issued genuinely. These issues are important to the government.

Submissions, upon receipt, would be referred to relevant departments and advice prepared for ministers. They are given detailed consideration. Ministers will be provided with specific advice. Departments will take submissions into account in the preparation of their business cases for submission to budget cabinet. Ministers, of course, will be informed of all relevant issues raised by any constituent organisations in the consultation process. It is a serious process and we take it seriously.

The putting together of a budget is a difficult and detailed and complex issue that requires the making of myriad value judgements around priorities, and expenditure priorities particularly. It is a hard thing to do in government to choose between a legion of very worthy initiatives and proposals that are made not just by the community but indeed by our agencies in relation to the contest for very, very scarce resources.

It always needs to be understood that we are a small jurisdiction with a relatively small budget. Our budget continues to be less than $3 billion. In a small jurisdiction with a relatively small budget with incrementally increasing demand for services such as health and services demanded by an aging population, the focus that we have through investments such as the $350 million investment in education allows for what might be described as very limited discretionary funds to be available to a budget cabinet in the ACT to fund the legion submissions or requests or opportunities that are put to the government by the community, indeed by our departments. It is probably fair for me to guess or to speculate that, of the submissions that are put to the government annually for budget funding, more than 90 per cent are unsuccessful.

Budget—increased charges

MRS BURKE: My question is directed to the Treasurer. Treasurer, budget paper No 3 from 2006-07 shows that your decision to punish Canberra residents by increasing your government's charges annually by the wage price index rather than the consumer price index is forecast to reap you $1.7 million in 2006-07. Your government has wasted $3.5 million on the busway and $4.5 million on the FireLink project, is building an unwanted arboretum, and will spend over half of the amount raised by WPI increases last year on a monument.

Minister, because of your decision to calculate increases according to WPI rather than CPI, pensioners and other residents are forced to pay a greater proportion of their income on ACT charges. Why should people tolerate wasteful and unnecessary projects when they are suffering under the weight of tax increases?

MR STANHOPE: I welcome the question and the opportunity to again reiterate that the ACT is not a high taxing jurisdiction. As I just indicated—regrettably, Mrs Burke appears not to have been listening—the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the most recent data available for the Australian Capital Territory, has reported that the total estate and local government taxation in the ACT is $2,386 per capita.

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