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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2537..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

are reflected in this budget again go to the question of the cost of the delivery of services. The people of Canberra have a right to expect the best possible services. We, as a government, deliver the best possible services commensurate with our income and the revenue we collect, which we then distribute and disburse consistent with our priorities.

It has to be understood—the community, every business and every householder understands—that if we want a range of services delivered at a certain standard there is a cost. The services being delivered by the ACT government over all its time in office and over the time of the previous government have been delivered at a cost of about 20 per cent above the national average.

By and large we have managed to achieve that significant additional expenditure over and above the national average by relying on land sale receipts, superannuation receipts, a number of other accounting standards and, to some extent, the GST, but not to the bountiful extent claimed by Mr Stefaniak in the release he issued yesterday in which he overstated the so-called GST bonanza by I think $709 million. That is the extent to which Mr Stefaniak overstated the extent of the so-called GST bonanza. Mr Mulcahy in his question today and in his press releases relating to wage price index said it was a $19.3 million burden.

Mr Mulcahy: Those are your figures. You put them in the Assembly yesterday.

MR STANHOPE: Have members ever seen a more artful way of expressing the impact of a particular rate or charge than by adding it up over a number of years, putting it into tiny print and stating, "This is not a single figure?"The wage price increase impact of this budget in this financial year is $1.7 million, which tells a slightly different story. The amount of $1.7 million is not quite as dramatic as the amount of $19.3 million. That is artful spin that the shadow treasurer seeks to impose on us.

The questions he just asked were, "Where is the $19.3 million? How will these people deal with this? Is this not a dreadful impost?"The impact of the wage price increase imposition in the budget is $1.7 million. That is a very different story, is it not? It is a very different atmospheric. It is a very different impact from the one suggested in the question. It is a very different imposition and change to the nature of the charge—from $1.7 million in this financial year to the shock, horror, $19.3 million over four years in the shadow treasurer's question and press release.

The impact in this financial year is $1.7 million. Yet the spin, the story, the atmospheric, the shock, horror could not be achieved if we talked about this financial year and the impact each year of this change in the charging regime. That really shows the level of the shadow treasurer's desperation. More importantly it shows that, in his desperation, he turned a $1.7 million budget year impact into a $19.3 million impact. He did that to start with but he is not confident of the story. There is no story in the impact this financial year, so he accumulated it over four years and turned it into a $19.3 million drama when it is a $1.7 million budget year impact.

The shadow treasurer is not particularly sure that he is onto a good thing, or that it is a real story. More important and more worrying—and this is relevant if the opposition ever managed to achieve government—the opposition is still living with the notion that it can deliver government services without paying for them. It costs the government, through

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