Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1612..
MR SESELJA (continuing):
delivered his first budget reply. He attacked budget balancing measures and criticised accrual-based budgeting. He claimed that accrual figures were "fictitious"figures and declared his support for stone age cash accounting. That was Mr Stanhope's first ham-fisted contribution to an economic debate: he declared his opposition to attempts to rein in spending and confessed his ignorance about modern, transparent budgeting methods.
After his record in opposition, opposing efforts to balance the budget, Mr Stanhope had the great audacity to turn around in 2006 and blame everyone but himself for mucking up the budget. The truth is that between 2001 and 2006 Labor enjoyed abundant revenue—windfall gains that previous governments could never dream of.
These were not windfalls of Mr Stanhope's making. It was the federal government that increased employment and economic activity in Canberra. And this was only made possible through tough decisions to cut taxes and reform the economy—decisions made by a Liberal government. Mr Stanhope is only entitled to claim responsibility for squandering the good times.
The government consistently talks up its health spending. Under Labor, over the period 2002-03 to 2006-07, actual spending on health has been $205 million more than planned in its budgets. But we are not seeing equivalent improvements in performance or health outcomes.
When Labor came into office, the majority of people waiting for elective surgery in the ACT in 2001-02 waited 40 days to have their operation. By 2005-06, the majority of people waiting for elective surgery in the ACT waited 61 days to have their operation. In 2005-06, the ACT still had the longest waiting times in the country, according to the Productivity Commission report.
The most up-to-date data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that the ACT has the highest cost of patient treatment in Australia. The cost per patient is 14 per cent higher than the average. When it comes to hospital administration, the cost in the ACT is 26 per cent greater than the Australian average.
Labor has no trouble spending $205 million more than it planned, but it is incapable of doing anything to move the ACT off the bottom rung on key measures. It is one thing to spend money on health; it is another to deliver real, tangible outcomes for the people of Canberra.
The centrepiece of this budget is an infrastructure spend of $1.4 billion over five years. We are supportive of the emphasis on infrastructure and on many of the projects within the investment. It is appropriate, at a time when the ACT government receives record revenues from land sales, that it is investing back in infrastructure. For instance, we will never again be able to sell a car park, section 63, which sold for $92 million. Those assets are gone forever, and, once we sell them, we need to invest back in infrastructure.
Notwithstanding the very large sums being spent, the ACT is getting surprisingly little of lasting significance outside the investment in health. There are only a couple of