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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 June 2010) . . Page.. 2984 ..


The other problem, of course, in the document is that it contains many instances of rollovers—yet again, the non-delivery of programs. Again, in this regard, you cannot trust this government’s spending estimates. They quote so often the input as a sign of growth: “This is a sign of some sort of budgetary excellence. This is the biggest budget we have ever had.” But of course it is. The budget grows every year. Over the last decade, the budget has almost doubled, so of course they are going to be bigger.

Then we get these furious comparisons to what was happening a decade ago. It is in many ways ridiculous the way that the Treasurer goes about her report. In that, this budget is not accurate. It has unrealistic, pessimistic and incorrect economic indicators such as the employment numbers, which did force a Treasury recall. It also contains precious little information about how the GST will be withheld by the commonwealth under its health reforms. And it is being withheld; the GST revenue goes out of our control.

It is a budget that is not transparent. Others have canvassed, and I will just mention again, the failure of ministers to answer questions; the inability of the majority of them to answer what the breakdown of the budgets was in the output classes. The LDA can do it. To their credit, as Mr Seselja just said, the LDA told us what the breakdowns were. No other minister has been able to tell us what the programs are inside the outputs, because they will be determined after the budget is passed. That is not how you put budgets together.

It is a budget that contains wasteful spending. We have got $26 million on the arboretum. You have to ask the question: why does ACTPLA need $100,000 to undertake a feasibility study into the ACT government shopfront in Gungahlin? These are promises that the government made. Get on with the job. It is a budget that contains higher taxes. We have had many discussions on the change of use charge, and I am sure that we will have more. All of the revenue lines have gone up. This is a government that is good at taxing; it is a government that is good at spending; it is not a government that is good at delivery.

This is a budget that is anti family; it is a budget that will adversely affect the people of Brindabella. (Time expired).

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (8.56): The Appropriation Bill provides for an underlying deficit of $132.7 million or approximately 4.4 per cent of the total appropriation. At the outset, it must be said that at times it is appropriate for governments to spend more than they receive in revenue. I do not think anyone in this place would argue that this is not the case. The difficulty, of course, is defining the appropriate time and purposes for deficit spending.

The golden rule of public finance is that over the business cycle the budget deficit, defined as the net lending balance, should equal net capital spending. The rule is based on the distinction between current and capital expenditure. The practical application of the rule is that government should achieve a zero net operating balance on average over the course of the business cycle. This is agreed by most economists, including Dr Peter Abelson from the University of New South Wales.


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