Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 3 Hansard (25 February) . . Page.. 979..
MR BARR (continuing):
There has been very strong support for the ACT government's proposal to further cut red tape to let schools get on with putting in their submissions. The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations yesterday called on the Greens and Liberals to not block the changes to allow money from the federal government's stimulus package to flow to schools. A once-in-a-100-year opportunity is how the P&C council have described this.
John Miller from the Master Builders Association has indicated his support for the government and supporting moves to ensure that we are in a position to act on this commonwealth funding. David Garratt of the ACT Block Grant Authority has also come out in support. Last night I received an email from Chris Peters of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicating that the position, as reported in the media, of the Liberals and Greens was "another case of politics getting in the way of sensible outcomes".
Let us be very clear what will happen if the opposition parties combine to block this regulation. It will put schools six months behind and it will mean that they will miss out on tens of millions of dollars. Why is this the case? It is because if these arrangements are blocked, as Minister for Planning I am prevented from making regulations which are substantially similar for six months. This six-month delay would be a disaster for schools, a disaster for Canberra jobs and a disaster for those in our building and construction industry in particular, but also for the ACT economy as a whole.
I urge the Liberals and Greens to join with ACT school communities, with all education stakeholders, with the building and construction industry, with the Property Council, with the chamber of commerce—with all of those organisations—to support what the government is doing. This is important. It should be, in the spirit of collaboration and the new way that this Assembly operates, something that, for opposition's sake, should be put aside.
I would like to acknowledge that the Greens and Liberals did appear to bring an open mind to the briefing I provided at lunch time, and I thank them for doing that. I thank them for the sorts of questions that they asked. But fundamentally, with the stated position of the Liberals publicly on the radio this morning that these changes do not go far enough and the Greens saying, "Hang on, they might go too far,"once again it stands to the Australian Labor Party to support our schools.
It is Labor that is taking a sensible, commonsense approach, steering a sensible middle ground between extremes to our right and extremes to our left. It will be this Labor government, in partnership with the federal Labor government, that will deliver $230 million worth of investment into ACT schools if only the opposition parties will let us get on with governing this territory.
MR HANSON: My question is to the Treasurer. When did Treasury first advise you that the 2008-09 budget would be in deficit?