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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (16 April) . . Page.. 936 ..

Discussion of Matter of Public Importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Mr Whitecross proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The economic crisis facing Canberra as a result of the Howard and Carnell Governments' cuts to the Public Service.

MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (3.45): Mr Speaker, the ACT does indeed face a very serious economic crisis as a result of the Howard and Carnell governments' cuts to the public sector. The seriousness of this economic crisis is made even greater by the manifest incompetence, unpreparedness and indifference portrayed by the Chief Minister in her answers to questions in question time. We have a situation where the new Howard Liberal Government is proposing quite significant cuts. The Liberal Government has made a number of statements in relation to its intentions to cut the Public Service. They have not been specific about which of those intentions will be realised, but what we do know is that they will be significant. We have numbers starting at 2,500 - the number Mr Howard was willing to put on those cuts before the election. We have 6,000 cuts, which is more like the number, based on their own efficiency dividends. We have 20,000 - - -

Mrs Carnell: From the CPSU.

MR WHITECROSS: No, not from the CPSU, Mrs Carnell; from the Deputy Prime Minister: "If this means 20,000 less public servants, so be it", or, to quote Mr De Domenico, "So what?". In more recent times we have heard the shock-horror Mother Hubbard story from the Howard Government, suggesting that perhaps 2,500 was not going to be enough and that we would have to ratchet it up a bit more; 13,000 has been suggested, with 7,000 for Canberra. Whichever of these numbers turns out to be the case, we have a very significant crisis facing the ACT.

Mr Humphries: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask Mr Whitecross to table the sources of the figures he has just referred to.

MR WHITECROSS: Mr Speaker, I have not quoted from any documents. I have referred to figures which are in the public domain. It is not a point of order, as far as I am concerned.

MR SPEAKER: I will make that decision.

MR WHITECROSS: I am expressing an opinion on it, Mr Speaker, and what I am saying is that I have not quoted from a document.

MR SPEAKER: You are not quoting from a document?

MR WHITECROSS: No. If Mr Humphries wants to read a few documents and some of the Liberal Party's own comments, he will find these numbers for himself.

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