Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 354 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
given the importance of that industry within the overall scheme of things. Similarly, work on the Federal Highway, the additional $21m for the National Museum of Australia, and the measures surrounding a number of projects in the Parliamentary Triangle all add up to a very substantial investment from which this community will benefit.
But there are downsides. The Chief Minister has been explicit about that and has not pulled punches about them. I think it is to her credit, as the leader of a government, a Liberal government, in this country, that she is prepared to make those comments, even when it is not in the collective interest of the Liberal Party. The downsides are, of course, that there are to be continuing job losses in the Federal Public Service. They promise to be of the order of 9,000 jobs over the life of the coming budget.
It is probably worth pointing out, Mr Speaker, that what is promised and what is actually delivered in the way of job losses sometimes can be two quite different things. Last year's budget papers for the Commonwealth budget indicated that the Australian Public Service would be cut back to the tune of more than 16,000 jobs, but only about 12,000 jobs ended up being lost in real terms. Anybody in government who has attempted to engineer radical downsizing knows how very difficult it is to hold down the number of employees that one actually targets to reduce. It was very true of the Federal Government's budget last year - 16,000 jobs were slated to go, but only 12,000 actually went. I do not wish to be understood, Mr Speaker, to be saying, "Oh, is that not good; only 12,000 jobs went". In Canberra's case the loss of 12,000 jobs was a quite severe economic burden to have to handle. But the reality is that the target of 9,000 jobs set by the Commonwealth in this budget does not equate to 9,000 jobs in Canberra, notwithstanding what those opposite might care to say, and does not necessarily even equate to 9,000 jobs across the board. So, although I am not exactly buoyant about those jobs going, I am not quite so panic struck as some others have been in these sorts of debates.
Mr Speaker, whatever the pros and cons of the most recent budget, we need to bear one thing in mind: It is the job of the ACT Government and of the ACT Legislative Assembly vigorously to press for the exploitation opportunities that affect our city. When it suits the interests of this city to give the Commonwealth Government a shellacking, we have indicated that we are prepared to do that where the territorial interest calls for it. When we need to exploit an opportunity for partnership with the Federal Government or otherwise to work closely with the Federal Government, we do that as well. We have demonstrated the capacity to achieve both of those goals, Mr Speaker. The budget that the Chief Minister will deliver next month will take on board both of those challenges and will, I believe, advance the position of the ACT in that respect; but that is a matter for the Chief Minister to elaborate on on 23 June.
Mr Speaker, I think that one thing we have learnt from the Federal budget which is worth commending the Federal Government for is its preparedness to tackle the level of debt. Very significant levels of debt - huge levels of debt - were left to the people of Australia by the former Federal Labor Government. Ms Tucker, who has been very critical of the cutback measures taken by the Federal Government, needs to bear in mind that an issue that she often talks about - intergenerational equity - is badly ignored if people are not prepared to accept the consequences of costly decisions that they make at a particular point in time. This Federal Government has said, "We are prepared to tackle that level of