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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (19 September) . . Page.. 2898..

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (4.49): I want to respond to some of the things that the Treasurer had to say, which Mr Gentleman repeated. The Chief Minister focused on the amount of tax actually collected by the commonwealth. He neglected to mention that the GST, which has been the massive growth tax, is included in the figures that he is quoting. All that money is going to the states and territories, and the ACT has been a beneficiary of the massive increase in GST revenue coming in over the past few years. Neither the Treasurer nor Mr Gentleman mentioned that.

Both the Treasurer and Mr Gentleman talked about our being at about 100 per cent of our revenue raising capacity and how we have less revenue raising capacity than other states and territories. Of course, they neglected to mention that we are compensated for that. I believe the grants commission applies a formula of about 1.08 or 1.1, which takes account of the fact that we have less revenue raising capacity than some of the other states and territories. That is something that both Mr Gentleman and the Treasurer neglected to mention. They neglected to mention all sorts of facts in this debate because it suits them.

The Treasurer asked what we would do differently and what our policies would be. We are constantly highlighting areas of wasted expenditure by this government. We talk about the busway, the arboretum and the prison. We see the hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars of waste by the LDA. We are constantly highlighting areas where this government could be cutting back its expenditure without significantly affecting services. But they will not take us up on it. The Treasurer was essentially asking, "What would you guys do? If you had made as big a mess of it as we have, what would you then do? Would you raise taxes?"Well, if we had made as big a mess of it as they have, we might be forced to raise taxes. But we would not have made as big a mess of it. We would not have squandered the massive windfall that we have seen coming to this government in recent years.

Let us look at some of that windfall. Between 2002 and 2005, the ACT received around $908 million in unanticipated revenue; that is, revenue over and above what was estimated in the budget papers. Between 2002 and 2005 the ACT received $900 million. What have we seen for that? The Chief Minister always mentions the Vardon report and the Gallop report and the bushfire recovery. The cost of those was about $365 million. Of course, that is not taking into account the fact that good governments budget for unexpected events. There needs to be a bit of money in the kitty for things like that happening.

But even if we take into account that $365 million of extra expenditure that could not have been anticipated, we had a $900 million windfall in that time. What does that leave us with? The answer is that $535 million of expenditure has been misallocated. We knew there was going to be growth in health expenditure. That was planned for. We knew there was going to be growth in education expenditure. We have seen $900 million extra come in, but this government has squandered it. We have had a massive windfall. Where has that come from? Some of it has come from GST revenue. Some of it has come from land sales. Some of it has come from extra stamp duty revenue. They have been the three biggest things. We have been the recipients of a massive windfall gain from the property boom and from GST. They have been the two main areas of extra money that has been coming in.

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