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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 4 Hansard (8 April) . . Page.. 1105..


Economy—outlook

MR PRATT: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, on 15 March 2008 the economics editor for the Canberra Times, Peter Martin, wrote:

The economic chiefs at both Westpac and the ANZ believe that economic growth is now heading south.

Earlier this year, Access Economics had this to say:

Canberra's construction boom is heading back down the mountain, taking some heat out of the city's private sector boom ... a developing risk for 2009 is if Federal spending cutbacks also occur.

More recently Access Economics commented on the latest state final demand figures by saying:

When you are being beaten by NSW, you know you're a loser.

Chief Minister, what action are you taking to position the ACT to cope with the anticipated economic slowdown?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The ACT government has acted and has been acting for six years to ensure that we have the capacity to meet the challenges of a slowing economy. I must say that when we began the process of seeking to fireproof the ACT economy against the shocks that we might have anticipated, such as the need to respond to the challenge that a rapidly ageing population presents to our health system, we were not perhaps quite prepared for the extent of this economic mismanagement that has now been revealed at a federal level.

I must say that as we sought to fireproof the economy and as we sought to ensure that we had a balance sheet that would allow us to respond to emerging needs we did not anticipate that the federal government would drive the economy down to the point where there were eight interest rate rises in three years and where an average young Canberra family now spends $370 a month additionally on its mortgage.

We did not anticipate the level or the nature of the economic shock that the Liberal Party would, almost by deliberate mismanagement, actually inflict on the people of Australia. It was just a frenzied panic by Howard and Costello when they saw their political fortunes going south at the rate they were. When the Prime Minister first realised that he was at risk of losing his seat—the ultimate ignominy for any leader, of course, is to lose their seat—he simply threw caution to the wind. He spent like a drunken sailor. They were throwing money out of the car window as they drove around, Howard and Costello, and they drove inflation to the point where there have been eight interest rate rises in three years.

A young Canberra family now spends $370 a month more on its mortgage than it was spending just a couple of years ago as a result of that rampant, outrageous and reckless spending and that total lack of economic management which is now a feature of what has become an infamous period in government.


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