Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 352 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
government schools, and student support; and that in that time job programs have been cut by $1.8 billion. Those are the raw, savage figures. That is what the Federal Government has done to deliver this surplus, and the glee in the delivery of a surplus ignores the hardship, the heartache and the suffering that those sorts of cuts have delivered to disadvantaged Australians. I do not think we should ignore that. In terms of any discussion on the impact of the Federal budget on the ACT, it is just a little bit selfish and a bit too simplistic of us actually to applaud the fact that the capital works program for the Parliamentary Triangle has received a significant boost. It is just far too simple. An awful lot of people are battling and struggling as a result of the way the Federal Government has gone about its business.
But it is relevant for this Assembly to focus on the specific implications for the residents of Canberra. One of the things that we must focus on as much as anything else is the anticipated additional job cuts, the fact that the Federal Government has announced that another 9,000 jobs will be lost in the Australian Public Service. On past experience, at least 3,000 of these will occur in Canberra. It is interesting that over the last three years, responding to the cuts that we have actually suffered in the Public Service in that time, the private sector has grown by around 3,000. Despite the fact that that background of cuts caused the recession in Canberra, despite the fact that, as a result of those cuts we have suffered, thousands of families in Canberra have been put under enormous stress and have suffered enormous instability in their lives, despite the fact that the price of their houses has been badly affected, and despite the fact that we have had a record number of personal bankruptcies in the ACT and businesses are going broke, it is notable that we have managed to grow the private sector by 3,000, the exact number that is now to be cut out over the next couple of years. The hard work that has been done simply has been wiped out in this budget. We are back to where we started three years ago.
A more worrying aspect, I think, for us in the Assembly is the signals that are now being deliberately disseminated by the Government in terms of the coming ACT budget. We have only a month to go. Interesting little messages are appearing about how it is going to be a hard budget and how we will have to steel ourselves against further redundancies in the ACT public sector. This is despite a very clear promise in last year's budget speech by the Chief Minister that this Government would not compound the problems visited upon Canberra by the attitude of the Commonwealth to the public sector. But, of course, that was a pre-election budget. The election is out of the way now. We can discard the promises we made last time and we can get stuck back into the public sector in Canberra.
We also have the signal of the Belconnen pool decision - the breaking of a major promise, a significant promise, by this Government to the people of Canberra. That promise that has now been broken on the most ludicrous of grounds, quite spurious grounds, all in the name of getting this budget to look better.