Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 August 2022) . . Page.. 2180 ..
If this Labor-Greens government has nothing to hide in the way it manages the Territory’s finances, in the way it has managed the territory’s finances, it must support my motion. As the privileged custodians of taxpayers’ money, of taxpayers’ trust and of taxpayers’ faith, it is incumbent on any government to be as open and transparent as possible about the way it spends their money. I commend my motion to the Assembly.
(Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (3.42): I thank the Leader of the Opposition for bringing forward this motion today. Usually it is the practice of the Liberal Party to wait until they have won an election and then to spring a commission of audit on the community as an excuse to drive deep cuts to expenditure, to employment, and, indeed, to government programs, services and infrastructure projects. That has been the pattern that Ms Lee identified.
If you go back through the history of these, I understand that the first one was undertaken in 1873 in Western Australia. If we go to modern history and look at the last 30 years, it happened with incoming Liberal governments in Victoria in the 1990s and again in 2011-12; in Western Australia in the 1990s and again in 2008-09; with the Liberal government of New South Wales in 2011-12; and with the Country Liberal Party government in the Northern Territory in 2012-13. Of course, who could forget Campbell Newman’s infamous commission of audit from 2012-13, and then the mother of them all, the Abbott-Hockey commissioned National Commission of Audit in 2013-14?
It is straight from the modern Liberal Party playbook: “Let’s call for a commission of audit. Let’s outsource the policy work to then outsource everything else. Outsource and downsize the public sector, cut public service jobs, reduce funding to health, education, community services, police and emergency services—all of the things that the community relies upon.”
In looking at Ms Lee’s motion today, she is effectively asking for taxpayers, through the government, to fund the policy agenda and determine the policy agenda that the Liberals would seek to take to the 2024 election. Ms Lee, my answer to this is: no, taxpayers will not be funding your policy development work. You have stated and you clearly acknowledge that the ACT government is spending too much. You then, in the second half of your speech, went through a laundry list of areas where you would like the ACT government to spend more money. It is now incumbent upon you, having put this on the table and stated that this is the Liberal Party policy position, that this is what you would like to see. I credit you with doing it now and not after an election, so that we can now, for the next two years, have the debate about what the Liberal Party will cut, what it wants to cut.
Clearly, you think we are spending too much and you are concerned about the territory’s debt levels. That is fair enough. That is a legitimate public policy position to hold, and it is consistent with the Liberal Party’s world view that government should be smaller and it should do less, that there should be fewer public servants and there should be fewer services provided to the community. That is your party’s underlying political philosophy; it has been in modern times. So I am not surprised that you have brought this forward. It is entirely consistent. It is the same old Liberal