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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (19 September) . . Page.. 2863..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

private investor should contemplate investing. He talks it down. He is saying, "There is nothing going on here. If it were not for the federal government there would be nothing happening."

This belies the fact that there has been an enormous shift from the government sector to the non-government sector within the ACT, with an interesting turnaround of about 55 to 56 per cent of our total work force now in the private sector. It is a moot point and an interesting challenge for the private sector that the private sector contribution to the economy is not yet reflective of the number of employees within the private sector. It is contributing around 44 per cent to state final demand as against the 56 per cent from the commonwealth. So it is true that, whilst now being a minor employer, the commonwealth and ACT governments combined, contributing around about 43 per cent of employees within the territory, are nevertheless still contributing a significantly higher proportion of the dollars that circulate within the community. To that extent it is true that they are a major contributor.

Mr Smyth: So it is true.

MR STANHOPE: Of course it is. They have more money. The commonwealth and ACT governments combined—I will say this for Mr Smyth so that he understands—circulate more dollars in this community than does the private sector. It is a fact. But, having said that, it is of concern to me that the shadow Treasurer belittles the private sector's contribution to this town and is prepared to send the message out to the rest of Australia that this not a place in which you should invest. That is the message that Mr Mulcahy is sending out today.

MR MULCAHY: I ask a supplementary question. Why is the ACT government's projected budget outcome not better than it currently is, given the considerable assistance the commonwealth has provided to the ACT in terms of stable economic growth and record GST revenues?

MR STANHOPE: As members are aware, the ACT government has, through this particular budget process, made some very significant decisions, decisions that previous governments were not prepared to take, decisions certainly in relation to accounting standards and a determination for a sustainable future for the territory. We have taken the hard decisions in relation to the extent to which we will continue to fund government service delivery in the ACT at a level significantly above that at which it is funded interstate.

As everybody in this place knows, it is an unsustainable level. In the context of the debate we have had around the budget and around the decision that the government has taken, most particularly in relation to education but certainly in relation to health, ACTION bus services and a whole range of government service delivery, we have sought to contain our expenditure within sustainable limits. These limits will ensure that we can, into the future, provide the same range and quality of service in education, health and municipal services that we have enjoyed and that we risk not being able to provide to those that come after us, whether it be next year or the year after, but most certainly for our children and their children. Our capacity to continue to provide government services at the level that we have become used to and that we expect is simply not sustained into the future.

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