Canberra Times . . Page.. 486 ..
Let me now discuss the outlays measures announced in the Federal budget. The total net outlays, offset by asset sales, are expected to increase by an estimated $1.3 billion, which represents a real decline of 2.5 per cent over 1994-95. This includes a number of expenditure initiatives with a net cost of $700m. The expenditure savings include a change in indexation arrangements for specific purpose payments to the States and Territories. This will definitely affect the ACT and it will come into effect on 1 July 1995, thereby saving the Commonwealth $350m. This is a unilateral reduction of Commonwealth funding to States and Territories. It means, Mr Speaker, that the ACT, along with other State governments, will be forced to help fund the Labor Government's Federal budget. This decision is typical of the Commonwealth's heavy-handed approach to the States and Territories. It simply exacerbates the current problems that occur in the States and the Territories. In the ACT's case the net reduction in the total level of SPPs is estimated to be $200,000 in 1995-96, rising to $3.4m in 1998-99.
The Commonwealth Government has stuck by the old Labor stand-by, an efficiency dividend. Mr Kaine has spoken about this already. A 1.4 per cent efficiency dividend has been stripped from almost all Federal departments' running costs. This sort of across-the-board reduction has no regard for responsible budgeting and inevitably will cause, as I read this morning in the Canberra Times, quite dramatic job reductions. If you do not make sure that these sorts of reductions are focused in areas where efficiencies can be achieved, all you end up with is job reductions. It was interesting to note that the previous Chief Minister, Ms Follett, suggested yesterday that there would not be job reductions. She seems to be at odds with Mr Johns on this.
Mr Speaker, I noted during question time the Leader of the Opposition's interest in the corporatisation of ACTEW. There seems to be a bit of irony in this. The blinkered left-wing ideology of the ACT Labor Party has trenchantly opposed the corporatisation of ACTEW, despite the very clear benefits demonstrated right across Australia where government business enterprises have been corporatised. Corporatisation has allowed these enterprises to focus on customer service rather than bureaucratic processes. The Federal Government, a Labor government, has been corporatising government enterprises for 10 years. Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, this week's budget saw the Federal Labor Government not just corporatise but privatise important government assets, including selling off one of the Labor Party's great icons, the Commonwealth Bank. While the Labor Opposition, the people opposite, have been quick to condemn my Government for relatively minor plans to corporatise ACTEW, there has been a deafening silence on the plans of their Federal Labor colleagues to sell off $5 billion worth of public assets. Where are the protests? Where is the outrage, Mr Speaker? I think it really says everything about this Labor Opposition. They simply have double standards.
MR BERRY (4.21): What it truly says, Mr Speaker, is that we were elected in the ACT and we focus on the Australian Capital Territory. We are focused on ensuring that a Liberal government does as little damage as is possible to the Australian Capital Territory. My colleague the Leader of the Opposition has outlined the great success story in the Federal Government, in particular in relation to the creation of jobs, the great success story in the ACT in relation to management of the economy, and the