Page 2992 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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The result is a half-a-billion-dollar annual interest payment. The result is broken promises and twisted truth, in an attempt to cover up his failures. As former Labor Chief Minister Jon Stanhope pointed out:

To put this in perspective we will be paying more on interest costs than the government has budgeted for environmental protection, police services and community mental health services combined.

In fact, funding for those services will actually decrease over the forward estimates. Canberrans are missing out on critical services and infrastructure because we, the Canberra community, will be paying half a billion dollars each year to service the Treasurer’s debt.

The Treasurer has systematically underfunded our health system. Education funding is going backwards. The ACT has the lowest funding per capita for police. You cannot drive on a road in Canberra without hitting a pothole, as was discussed in great detail over the last hour. Land release has been strangled on purpose, and aspirational home owners are unable to secure a block of land to build on. We have the highest median rents in Australia. The Chief Minister sold off public housing to pay for the tram. One in 12 Canberrans, including 9,000 children, are living in poverty. Canberra businesses have struggled through COVID and confidence is low, with ACT boasting the lowest business survival rates in the country. The promised stadium in the city has been abandoned—and the list goes on.

The Treasurer has no plan—no will—to fix it. In fact, his blatant refusal to even acknowledge the issue means that our children and their children will pay the price. The way the Treasurer has managed the budget is in stark contrast to his aspirational and now clearly idealistic vision for Canberra that good government is about economic management:

There is no point being in government if you cannot make people’s lives better. And you cannot do that if you are not paying attention to the economy. Good governments manage the economy responsibly, and that good management leads to benefits for all the community. It is what underpins the delivery of the services that Canberrans want and need.

He went on to say:

Running a surplus operating budget provides intergenerational equity. It means that each generation of the ACT community pays for the government services they are receiving. A surplus budget is vital to maintaining the territory’s AAA credit rating. A surplus budget also provides the basis for managing the risks and uncertainties that will inevitably arise in the future. That is the reason why this government has delivered successive budget surpluses totalling $250 million since coming to office.

That was in 2006. Oh, how the Chief Minister’s attitude has changed since then! This failed budget, just another in a long line of failed budgets passed, is anything but what the Chief Minister deems to be good government. It goes directly against what he believes is the point of being in government. And long after he has left this place, it is our children and their children who will be left with this burden, left by this Chief Minister and the Labor-Greens government.

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