Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 663 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Canberrans to be burdened by unsustainable levels of debt. We have seen the problems that that has caused in other States. We have seen some of those States still struggling, almost drowning, in terms of their debt problems. That is not a situation that we want to see occurring in the Territory.
We have had self-government for only about nine years. It is not too late to take sensible steps to ensure that we address this problem. As some of my colleagues have said, yes, there are going to be funding priorities that need to be addressed. Yes, there are areas where we probably need to spend money to do things better. Certainly, as has been pointed out, there are areas where we can be more efficient and where we can ensure that we cut the cloth to suit our means and do not continually overspend. Those are the decisions that have to be taken. They are, indeed, hard decisions. There will be some pain, but they are decisions that are essential. The pain will be infinitely worse if we do not do something now and if we do not put a plan in action to ensure that we continue to drop that debt and address, especially, some of the very real problems we have in relation to superannuation.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.21): Mr Deputy Speaker, this has been an interesting debate from a number of perspectives. One is, it would appear, the significant lack of interest in it from the Labor Party. I heard only the end of Mr Quinlan's speech this morning, but I have been appropriately briefed since then. What was interesting is that Mr Quinlan did not say what the Labor Party would do. As I understand it from the motion that Mr Osborne put on the table, this is an important issue, and Mr Osborne wanted to know what different parts of the Assembly, particularly the Labor Party, the alternative government, were going to do about it. Mr Deputy Speaker, we are still waiting.
I assume that a number of extra speakers will get up this evening. Unlike Mr Quinlan, maybe Mr Stanhope will get up and explain how the Labor Party will address the operating loss in the ACT. As I understand it, all Mr Quinlan wanted to talk about was asset sales. He also made some comments about projects such as Bruce Stadium that he does not agree with or had some significant problems with. It is very interesting that he picked Bruce Stadium as a project that he thinks there are significant problems with, because Bruce Stadium is costing the ACT taxpayers $12.3m and, on current returns, just from the Olympic events alone, will gross more than $20m. If every single $12m spent produced $20m we would have addressed the operating loss. But, forget that for a moment, Mr Deputy Speaker. That was a very silly issue for Mr Quinlan to pick on because that is one of the things we have to do more of - invest in the future; invest in increasing our revenue to the ACT; invest in looking at ways to improve the whole business environment and the whole economy in the ACT. That is what Bruce Stadium is about. It was very strange that he picked that as one of the things he did not like very much.
Mr Quinlan also spoke about how the Labor Party had committed significant dollars to superannuation or to funding superannuation liabilities and the naughty Liberal Government had not done so. What Mr Quinlan forgot to tell everybody was what Labor was using to provide those dollars to go into funding superannuation liability. It was the