Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 19 August 2010) . . Page.. 3681 ..
Discussion of matter of public importance
MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Le Couteur): Mr Speaker has received letters from Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Mr Hanson, Ms Hunter, Ms Le Couteur, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Porter be submitted to the Assembly, namely:
The importance of maintaining a strong and stable economy for Canberra and the region.
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.14): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important topic. As we know, the ACT economy faces enormous risks if the coalition win the upcoming federal election. They are planning to cut both spending and staffing levels and increase the efficiency dividend for government departments. This will effectively stop economic growth in the region, lead to higher unemployment and place immense pressure on local businesses.
The ACT has one of the strongest economies in the nation. We are on track to achieve gross state product much higher than the national average. Our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country at 3.4 per cent. We have a strong housing sector and, notwithstanding the lingering impact of the global financial crisis, our retail sector is doing well. The election of a coalition government would put all this in jeopardy.
Who can forget the damage the Howard government wrought when they embarked on their vicious cost cutting attack on Canberra in the region in 1996—a 2.3 per cent decline in employment levels, a 3.5 per cent fall in average house prices and negative population growth? The job losses had a huge impact on the community and resulted in great hardship for many. Many people in our community struggled with such hardship, and the anxiety and depression seen in many members of our community at the time was palpable. Just for Mr Hanson’s benefit, that was anxiety and depression—for the alternative minister for health—who does not seem to know the difference between depression and recession.
It will be no different if the coalition government are elected and it could potentially be much worse. Who would have thought that a coalition government would be an even more damaging force than a global financial crisis? The job cuts proposed by the coalition will not only affect those individuals whose employment ceases but also put the jobs of many others at risk, including consultants and contractors, retail workers and cleaners. Just like in the dark Howard years, every family in the region will be affected. The proposed reduction in health and education spending will directly impact on our teachers and our nurses, further affecting our community. Why would we trust the federal opposition on the provision of services? They have form and history on this and those opposite should be very ashamed of that.
Yesterday I stood in this place and reminded the Assembly about the $1 billion which was taken out of the health system when Mr Abbott was health minister. It is worth