Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 3 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 754..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
year. The structural reform undertaken by this government two years ago has resulted in a marked improvement in the efficiency of government service delivery. The commission's assessment highlights this. It reveals that in 2004-05, service provision was at 135 per cent, and it has reduced since then to 122 per cent.
The level of services provided in the ACT remains high, and the government has continued to invest in key priority areas such as health, education, disability, children, youth and family services and community safety. Indeed, as the minister for education has repeated almost ad nauseam today, we are in the process of investing $350 million in the public education system—an unheralded and historic level of investment in public education in the ACT. We have increased health expenditure by over 80 per cent. We have provided for more hospital beds. In fact, we have replaced every single one of the 114 beds that the Liberal Party closed in government. We have replaced every single one, plus more. The 2007-08 budget contained the second-largest capital investment program in the territory's history, providing an additional $289 million in capital works.
I am pleased to inform the Assembly that the ACT, on the latest reports from the Commonwealth Grants Commission, taxes at an average rate in Australia and continues to provide services at a premium level—the highest of any jurisdiction, whilst taxing at the national average. That is a significant achievement by any jurisdiction—to tax at an average level but to be able to provide, because of the efficiencies in service delivery, services at a premium level and well above what is provided by any other place in Australia.
MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, before the 2004 election, your government made a clear promise not to close any schools. Further, your government said that school closures would not occur during Ms Gallagher's time in politics. After breaking this promise, your government has now been caught red handed disrupting Lyons primary school early. Chief Minister, why cannot your government be open, honest and accountable with the community regarding school closures?
MR STANHOPE: It has been.
MR SMYTH: Chief Minister, how can the Canberra community trust anything your government says?
MR STANHOPE: The community does trust us and continues to trust us. I think it has been said that one of the reasons the level of trust and support for this government is as high as it is is the debacle the opposition, the Liberal Party, have proven to be in opposition. Just look.
None of us knows who the shadow minister for education is. The Scarlet Pimpernel: they seek him here, they seek him there, they seek him everywhere—that damned elusive Seselja, the invisible man! You never see him. It just occurred to me now. It is a reflection of what people are saying wherever I go. "Who is this bloke? We never