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I reiterate that the ACT Government is most intent on retaining its membership of all those bodies which it is currently a member of. We have no intention of sacrificing that as some way of getting to a different model of self-government. However, I think you should credit us with a little bit of innovation and intelligence as we approach this task. I am sure that it would be quite possible to talk to bodies like the Commonwealth about how a change in the status or the description of those who govern the ACT might affect membership of those councils. I have no doubt at all that the name we call ourselves is immaterial to the way in which we are treated at those meetings. Ms Follett should be aware that even bodies like COAG and other bodies below COAG have representation from local government on them. Obviously, it is not confined to individual organisations or individual local governments. Those people ought to be aware that we have no intention of sacrificing the ACT’s membership of those bodies merely because we believe, and I think the people of the Territory are able to believe, that there is a better way of structuring self-government in this Territory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Discussion of Matter of Public Importance
MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Mr Kaine proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:
How two Labor Governments contrived to destroy the ACT economy.
MR KAINE (3.40): Mr Speaker, there is an old saying about getting two birds with one stone. Interestingly enough, seldom in real life is it possible to achieve that; but, in terms of the performance of two Labor governments in recent years and the ramifications of those performances on the ACT public, it is true to say that today we have the opportunity literally to get two birds with one stone. Why it is that two governments have worked so assiduously to bring the ACT to its present state in terms of its economy and its financial strength, or weakness, is beyond me. It may be due to lack of care, it may be due to lack of knowledge, or it may be due simply to indifference. Whatever the reason, the performances of the two governments have brought us to a situation where the economic and financial wellbeing of every citizen of the ACT, of every small business in the ACT and, indeed, of the Government itself is placed in severe jeopardy.
The former Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, will get up, I am sure, and she will talk about balanced budgets, AAA ratings and financial management as though she actually practised some of those things. Looking exclusively for the moment at the ACT performance, that is what she has been saying for the last four years. In fact, it is a myth. I will demonstrate how and in what respects it is a myth. We have had three years of Labor Party budgets. I will come to the reason why there have been only three in a little while. The three Labor budgets were in 1992-93, 1993-94 and 1994-95. What have we seen in these three Labor budgets? We have seen an absolute failure to confront any of the major issues that confronted the Territory in 1989, some of which the