Page 2266 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022

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It is essential given the population growth and it is essential given the change of federal government and the potential to get an outcome on a range of projects that have been stalled. (Time expired.)

MS ORR: Chief Minister, what does this mean for existing infrastructure projects?

MR BARR: What I want to be clear about is that, unlike some calls that we have received from other political parties in this place and indeed in the media around the need to be very, very worried about debt and all these zeros and trying to create fear in the community around the government borrowing for infrastructure, which has largely been the response to the budget to date from the opposition leader, what we are saying is that we are committed to these projects. We are not going to down tools on the projects that are underway. For any infrastructure plan refresh—

Ms Lee interjecting—

MR BARR: For any infrastructure plan refresh, we will have a look at what should populate the infrastructure pipeline in the second half of this decade. But we are committed, and the projects are funded. They are projects that are contributing to the increase in net debt. The question has been asked: why has net debt increased? Well, it is funding our infrastructure program, because it is building assets that Canberrans will enjoy for decades to come. Just as we borrow for our housing and we do not save up the total cost of our house and then not buy something until we have saved every single dollar, we do need to borrow in order to invest in long-lived infrastructure that will be shared by generations of Canberrans. So, to the intergenerational argument that is put forward of, “Oh, the debt that our children will have,” they will have assets. The territory’s net worth has increased because the debt is delivering an asset.

Ms Lee: You literally said ‘intergenerational equity’ in your inaugural speech.

MR BARR: The debt is delivering an asset that—

Mr Gentleman: Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. Madam Speaker, you have warned the Leader of the Opposition. She has interjected twice again during this answer from the Chief Minister, and I would ask that she be expelled from the chamber.

MADAM SPEAKER: I am not going to take that step, and there were other voices, including Mr Parton’s. I know we are not a church and we do not have to remain silent, as in a church or a library, but the interjections are serial and should be
toned down.

DR PATERSON: Chief Minister, what would cuts to the ACT’s infrastructure pipeline mean for the growing Canberra community?

MR BARR: As I was saying before the interjections, the borrowing that we are undertaking is financing these infrastructure projects. The only way to address the concerns that have been expressed about government borrowing for infrastructure is to not go ahead with those infrastructure projects. One way of reducing net debt would be to cancel all future infrastructure spending. That would be a policy option.

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