Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 March 2008) . . Page.. 449 ..
jurisdictions. Because we were right on the ball in the ACT, the Stanhope Labor government brought in taxes that everyone else was getting rid of.
The Chief Minister and minister for economic development continually laments the narrow economic base of the ACT. His answer to this lack is quite clear: do nothing. Indeed, his answer is to take actions that make it more difficult for industry to develop, with a more punitive tax regime and, as we saw in 2006, the savage cutting of resources that are directed towards encouraging a stronger and more diversified business base. We slashed the business support staff and we slashed funding for business assistance programs. This government clearly has no plan for business and economic development.
Of course, we could mention the way the Stanhope government planned to have budget deficits at a time of strong economic activity, to the dismay of all. We saw their failure to plan for water security. We know that the Chief Minister was in denial. He said we did not need an additional water supply. He said we did not need it for 20 years, if ever. What have we seen? Another back-flip; we are expanding the Cotter dam. We saw the failure about issues relating to housing affordability. We also saw a failure to devise a plan for building and upgrading key roads around Canberra. We now have bottlenecks and other traffic flow problems which could have been avoided or ameliorated. What has been the response from the Stanhope government? Let us simply consider the response from the minister responsible, Mr Hargreaves, to the bottleneck on the Monaro Highway where it passes over Canberra Avenue. It is well known to Tuggeranong residents. The minister’s spokeswoman said: “The government had no immediate plans to amend that section of the highway as the minister had not received any complaints.” So if you complain, they will have a plan, but if you do not complain then nobody wants to know.
Not only does the Stanhope government not plan effectively, but it is a complaints-driven government, which is confirmation that it does not have plans of that nature. The failure to develop effective plans for the ACT public bus network recalls the famous Hargreaves proposal of 2006 that had to be substantially revised some months later, after a public outcry—reaction, not leadership. We are now seeing a repeat of this earlier fiasco, with the Hargreaves proposal for more changes to ACTION’s bus routes and services. I bring two bus routes to the attention of the chamber—the 768 and the 769, which flow the length of the eastern side of the Tuggeranong valley and are well used by patrons who travel to Russell and Civic. They are mooted for removal.
Let us look at health. I note that the health minister is present. There has been a complete failure to manage the health portfolio without recourse to innumerable plans. At the last count, in addition to the three health ministers, there have been something like 38 plans and programs announced. We have had another one announced this week with great hoo-ha—38 plans and programs in seven years. These are all simply knee-jerk reactions to issues where they cannot cope. It is a case of being seen to be doing something in an attempt to dupe the public. Where is the proper planning? Where is the preventive health plan? Where is the community-based plan?
We also had the January 2003 bushfire disaster, where there were no plans to warn the public. It was evident that the lessons from the December 2001 bushfires had not been