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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 3841..


MR MULCAHY (continuing):

The public outcry over this decision has been immense. It is indicative of anger at not just the decision itself but the way in which it has been presented to the people of Canberra as a fait accompli. It was not practical for me to be at the rally last week, but hundreds of people attended. In addition, over the last few weeks I have received many representations from many angry constituents. Indeed, just this morning my staff logged 14 letters from constituents. They are not all form letters, as the minister tried to purport; there are many individual letters. But this pales in comparison with the number of emails and other letters I have had over the past week. The petitions that have been tabled in the Assembly, with thousands of signatures opposing the government's decision, are reflective of the depth of feeling. One of the major concerns of these people, especially 800 people who signed the petition tabled today, is the complete lack of consultation that has occurred in relation to this matter.

People are concerned not only about the loss of a vital community service but also about the way in which the territory government has handled the issue. What we see here is a government that is exploiting its majority to introduce major cost-cutting measures. We must consider why these measures are deemed to be necessary. The fact of the matter is that, because of its financial mismanagement of the territory budget since 2001, the government of this territory is now cutting services that it sees as expendable. This is something I have been on about since I was elected to this Assembly in 2004. I predicted it was coming when Mr Quinlan was here, before he jumped ship. I have said what was going to happen. We have seen the horrific deficits. We have seen the horrific increases in taxes, many of which have been borne by older folks in Griffith. And we are now seeing the slash-and-burn policy of this government as it desperately tries to get its house back in order after having had years and years of profligate spending, poor management and a lack of financial control, despite the pleadings from Mr Quinlan to stop high-spending ministers who took their eye off the ball.

For 41/2 years, the mantra of this government was to spend, spend and spend. Wasteful pet projects were indulged, the public service was expanded to record levels, and all the time the budget suffered.

Mr Gentleman: You don't like those public servants, do you?

MR MULCAHY It is not a matter of not liking public servants. Look at where the Stanhope government took the numbers from the 15,000 when Kate Carnell was Chief Minister. The Stanhope government took the numbers to 19,000 people that we simply could not afford. I do not like to see stupidity in government, but that has been a hallmark of the way Mr Stanhope has run things over these years. It is too late that the government has realised that the forgotten voice of reason in the ranks—now, sadly for those opposite, enjoying Canberra's golf courses and bowling greens—the former Treasurer, Mr Quinlan, was correct all along: the government was living beyond its means.

Who pays for the wastefulness? The people of Canberra are going to pay for it. All residents suffer from the dramatic increases to rates and other government charges. Families suffer because of the closure of 39 schools and the poisoned chalice that Mr Barr has got. He is ducking for cover on the Griffith library issue. It is his electorate,


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