Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 351 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I believe that it is time for the ACT to be quite clear on the impacts of this Federal policy on our society. I am already hearing from welfare providers in Canberra that they are seeing increased demand for their services and I feel that, as a parliament, we have to take responsibility for that. I have noticed Mrs Carnell expressing concern about the impact of the Federal budget on service delivery in our city and in our region, but I am afraid that it is not good enough just to express that concern. We will have to take responsibility here. We will have to acknowledge the impact of this budget on the people of the ACT and we will have to put that into the budget. If that means spending less in other areas, so be it, because I still believe that our fundamental responsibility as a parliament is to look after those amongst us who are vulnerable or disadvantaged. I am very concerned, because I do not believe that that has been happening adequately. I believe the need is actually going to get much greater.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.03): I wish to make only a few comments in relation to the question of the impact of the Federal budget on the ACT. I rise really to support the remarks made by Mr Quinlan. In terms of considering the impact of the Federal budget, I think it is very important that we do not just adopt the simplistic approach of looking at those parts of the budget that have specific application to the ACT. We really do need to look more generally at those provisions in the budget that impact on each of us as Australians and as members of the Australian community. That is the point that Ms Tucker has made, and I agree with it absolutely.
It is far too simplistic just to look at the fact that the budget does make certain allowances for Federal capital works projects, it is far too simplistic just to look at the fact that there is some infrastructure development in terms of roadworks within the ACT and it is far too simplistic just to look at the continuing progression of the very fast train project. As exciting and as important as these developments are, the focus by the Chief Minister on those ACT specific initiatives and the fact that the Chief Minister has ignored the specifics of the major impact of Howard Government policies and programs on every Australian really do not give us a true picture of the impact of this budget and the previous budgets of the Howard Government.
In terms of the so-called $10 billion deficit and the fact that we now, supposedly, have a surplus of $2.6 billion or whatever it is, we have to consider the quality of life and the happiness of Australian citizens. If we did a poll in the streets or anywhere publicly in terms of the quality of life or the happiness of the citizens of Australia and asked whether anybody today is enjoying a better quality of life, whether anybody today is more happy in their personal lives, whether there is less discrimination in Australia and whether fewer people are being discriminated against, we would have a very different equation from the one we get from having a look at the maths supplied to us by the Treasurer and the Treasury.
I think it is more important that we look at the impact of the cuts in the budget - the fact that over the last three years we have suffered a net reduction of $1.6 billion in health; that over the last three years we have suffered a $500m cut in assistance to nursing homes; that over the last three years we have suffered an $800m cut to child care; that over the last three years we have suffered a $3 billion cut to universities, TAFEs,