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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 348 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Mr Speaker, our future is inexorably tied to the actions and decisions taken on Capital Hill. Any economic centre depends on some basic resources or a strategic location which may favour development of an economic centre. Our central industry is still government. Much has been claimed about the growth of the public sector, and there has been a little. But shifting the same work from the public sector to the private sector does not add to economic activity. That work still depends on the spending levels of government. Many of the oft-heard self-congratulatory claims about the growth of the Territorial private sector are based on illusion and do not necessarily serve Canberra well.

We have heard much about the Canberra Airport upgrading and the VFT. Both projects have universal support, but in the case of the VFT, in particular, the fruits of this venture are a long way off. However, assiduous readers of the OFM's quarterly reports could be forgiven for believing that the VFT's construction would start very soon and that everything would be rosy in a matter of weeks. This is, unfortunately, not the case and we still have a situation where Canberra's train has not yet come in. As I said earlier, I would like to see a strategic approach being taken by the ACT and Federal governments on how best to get Canberra moving again. I guess this has not happened because the Federal Government simply is not interested. Would it not be wonderful if both governments could work together to achieve a better deal for Canberra? Maybe it will happen with the next Federal government, Mr Speaker.

My greatest fear from the Federal budget is that it will give incentive to the ACT Government to continue and to accelerate the sale of public assets within an all too familiar strategy for balancing our local budget. Some time after the budget, I heard the Chief Minister use the term "pare back". We heard her mention today the term "take into account". These are ominous words. We look forward with apprehension to the ACT budget in June. Mr Speaker, I condemn the Federal Coalition Government for totally ignoring the national capital in this budget and its previous budgets. I condemn them for sitting by as our economy recedes and our city falls into disrepair. I condemn this Federal budget for the pain and hardship suffered by the people of the ACT, and I am disappointed that our Chief Minister should congratulate them on this achievement. I certainly do not.

MR HIRD (3.51): Mr Speaker, I do not share what those opposite have said about this Federal budget. As a matter of fact, there are parts of the budget that remind me of my grandmother giving me castor oil: She would say to me at the time that it was good for me. The fact is that the castor oil that we had to suffer was due to the deficit of billions of dollars that was handed to the Howard Government when it came to office, compliments of Keating and Hawke, and the 13 years of financial mismanagement by those governments. Notwithstanding that, the facts speak for themselves, certainly at the recent election when the Carnell Government went to the polls and got a second term even though there had been downsizing by the current Federal Government in the employment area. That was carried on as well by both Keating and Hawke over a number of years.

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