Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 19 August 2010) . . Page.. 3693 ..
deficits, not surplus. To be exact, we are looking at a predicted $470 million underlying deficit over the next four years.
There is no doubt that it is important to maintain a strong and stable economy. After all, the famous saying goes: “It’s about the economy, stupid!” This was the rallying cry in the 1992 US presidential election. The importance of the economy has never changed. I do not think anyone here will contest this. But we do disagree on how we would go about managing the economy.
In light of this, at this juncture I can already say that this matter of public importance, coming from across the floor, on the importance of maintaining a strong and stable economy, is farcical. It is a straw-man argument. Hence the crux of this matter is: “When will Labor’s addiction to big wasteful spending end?”
In fact, let us look at ACT Labor’s take on what they mean by the importance of maintaining a strong and stable economy in Canberra and the region: a rise in taxation per capita from $1,794 since ACT Labor’s election in 2001 to $3,126, almost double; a massive new $89 million tax slug to homeowners; a 30 per cent increase in parking fees; a reduction in business and development programs in 2010-11 of $4.8 million; a blow-out on a $53 million four-lane road to $120 million and only two lanes; buses that go nowhere, which cost ordinary taxpaying Canberrans $27,726 every working day; and approximately $50 million on that arboretum.
I do not wish to list the litany of bad economic management—we do not have time—but how does this translate to what Ms Porter calls the importance of maintaining a strong and stable economy for Canberra and the region?
Today, we learn that the Treasurer has lost control of the budget. According to the Canberra Times:
More than $23.2 million of unbudgeted spending was allocated to government departments from the Treasurer’s advance last financial year.
Over half of this money went to the Department of Territory and Municipal Services and the Department of Education and Training. TAMS, for example, incurred a $7.234 million overspend, including a $400,000 consulting fee to Ernst & Young last year to fix this problem, a further $3.168 million for additional ACTION buses and an additional $1 million to cover personal injury payouts.
Let us put this in its proper context. As a result of nine years of Labor, 23 schools were forced to shut, dozens of GPs have disappeared, and people with disabilities still face a lack of services and support. We Canberrans should be as mad as hell. We are having to pay more but we get less in return. This is under the stewardship of ACT Labor.
As much as the Kate Lundys of this world would like you to believe otherwise, Labor is planning to slash $840 million out of the public service. In a radio interview with Ross Solly this morning, as Mr Smyth has already mentioned, Andrew Leigh could not and would not guarantee that there will be no cuts to the public service.