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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3467 ..


Debate resumed from 24 September 1996, on motion by Mrs Carnell:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (3.00): Mr Speaker, the Liberals' second budget was Kate Carnell's true test as a Chief Minister and as a Treasurer. In this budget, Mrs Carnell faced two key problems - jobs and the budget deficit. These are challenges that governments can and must address. This budget gave Mrs Carnell an opportunity to rectify the misguided and shallow approach to governing which has been evident over the past year. Kate Carnell failed that test. She failed the test in four ways. She failed the test of economic management, she failed the test of financial management, she failed the test of fairness, and she failed the test of honesty. This failure amounts to a serious betrayal of the trust of the people of Canberra.

Mrs Carnell's budget fails to address the underlying problem of lack of growth in the ACT economy. Economic growth in the ACT has been on a downward spiral for some time, and it is a problem which this Government has manifestly ignored for too long. The Government's first response to the economic decline was denial. In their eyes, there was no problem. It was all negative talk and unsupported speculation. Now that speculation has proved correct. The next response was, "So what?". There may be public sector job cuts but it did not matter. They would all find jobs in the private sector investing each other's redundancy payments and mowing each other's lawns. Mrs Carnell and her colleagues then revised and moved on. A shallow admission emerged. Faltering economic growth would, of course, be arrested by a private sector led recovery. This did not happen. The political wind changed again.

Mrs Carnell admits that there is a problem and is busy blaming someone else. The election of her Liberal colleague John Howard provided the opportunity. Mrs Carnell then handpassed responsibility for the welfare of the ACT economy to Mr Howard. Blaming someone else for self-inflicted problems was much easier for Mrs Carnell. Of course, this meant a good headline. Managing the media is much more fun than focusing on real issues. Just like the budget, Mrs Carnell's excuses for prevarication on economic policy are full of holes. As an example, Mrs Carnell currently wants the people of Canberra to believe that John Howard is responsible for the depressed state of the ACT economy, but growth was only 0.9 per cent - - -

Mrs Carnell: That is actually what the Evatt Foundation said. They said that in the medium term the ACT's economic fate lies with the Howard Government.

MR WHITECROSS: Mr Speaker, does Mrs Carnell want to give another speech now?


MR WHITECROSS: I am willing to make time for her.

MR SPEAKER: Continue, Mr Whitecross.

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