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Canberra Times . . Page.. 478 ..

I have mentioned the failure to budget for necessary expenditures. The Clinical School at the Woden Valley Hospital has not been funded. It was established by the former Government, but it has not been funded. There is no financial provision in the forward estimates. There are no funds for the fit-out of the Civic Police Station. Here we have a record of failure to properly budget in the first place, a record of mismanagement of the budget after the money has been appropriated, and a record of recklessness or lack of knowledge or indifference - I know not what - that has put us in the situation that we are in today.

As to the deficit budgeting and the public debt, I go no further than an article in the Canberra Times of 9 May this year in which a report published by Bankers Trust says that the gross debt level will rise from $570m now to about $750m in 1997-98. The former Treasurer boasted about not borrowing and not creating any public debt. Her policies have led to that situation. Even in the forward estimates they overstated their expected revenues. Even in this current year we are down $18m. That flows from a couple of major items, like lease sales being down, which one might have predicted, and the ACTEW dividend being down, because they just cannot afford to pay the dividend that the Government established. The net effect, Mr Speaker, is to show that all of these claims about good management, AAA ratings and balanced budgets is pure myth. We have created a situation now where an enormous amount of effort and an enormous amount of pain is required to retrieve the situation.

I mentioned also that the Federal Government could take some blame. They have just produced their budget. Just look at that briefly. Public sector jobs are going to go. I know that everybody, including the Leader of the Opposition, has been saying that they are not going to go; but Gary Johns today, in the Canberra Times, says that they are going to go, and the trade unions are putting a figure of about 4,000 on it. Most of those will fall on the ACT because that is where the bulk of the public service is. Superannuation is going to be felt significantly because the ACT’s population is predominantly public service, and they are the ones who are going to feel the burden of the extra superannuation. The Medicare levy goes up and there is a 10 per cent increase on tobacco products. There is constant impact on the individual. At the business level there is an increase in the fringe benefits tax, an increase in company tax and the tax on motor vehicles, and building materials are to be taxed. Mr Speaker, David Chessell, from Access Economics, yesterday morning described this as a shoddy budget. He was right. The Business Council of the ACT has also given it a pretty poor assessment.

Mr Speaker, I do not know whether the community of the ACT can stand the combined impact of what these two governments have done - whether business can stand it and whether the private individual can stand it. I do know that the financial situation of the ACT Government is in such a parlous state that it is going to take years for us to pull out. We are in the same situation that Victoria was in, that Western Australia was in, and that South Australia was in, and whom do we thank for that? We have an economy that could well be stalled. There has been no effective government action to stimulate it. There is no effective action to relieve the afflicted, such as the unemployed and the disadvantaged youth in our community. Where has the Government done anything for them? The answer is that they have not.

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