Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1066 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
Mr Speaker, this budget is another brick in the wall in terms of the Liberal Party's ideological experiment with the size and legitimacy of government. The ideological fetish of reducing government spending and slashing public sector employment is not merely a philosophical game in a community such as ours; it is a threat to our survival. The slick one-liners about surpluses ignore one vital point: Peter Costello's and John Howard's surplus is underwritten by a million little deficits in the lives of ordinary Australians.
The Prime Minister of this nation, the leader of the party that sits opposite, said several months ago that he could understand the emotions of regional Australians who were flocking to Pauline Hanson. But, in respect of this community, this national capital - once a proud, cohesive community - he has an enormous blind spot. Through a conscious and deliberate act of policy, he delivered a crippling blow to this community. Unlike angry citizens who blame nameless, invisible global forces for the hardship and uncertainty in their lives, the people of Canberra need look no further than the house on Capital Hill to see the author of their misfortune. They have been kicked and spurned by their own Government, while its local branch office has engaged in synthetic outrage and silly tinkering with names and slogans - "Kate Carnell's Liberals", "the Canberra Liberals", "Feel the Power of Canberra". If only any of it were true. If only there were two bob's worth of difference between Howard and Carnell, then maybe we could feel the power. Chief Minister, more people are feeling pain than are feeling power.
MR QUINLAN (3.20): Mr Speaker, as Mr Stanhope has clearly stated, this budget represents an attack on those in our community who can least afford it and who are least able to defend themselves against it. This is a budget which is replete with skewed priorities and broken promises, and it slugs the very people the Government should be there to protect. Make no mistake, Mr Speaker: The real story of this budget is not the very optimistic growth figures, or the growth in the private sector. The real story of this budget lies in the slug on Housing Trust tenants, on families, on the difficulties that the Community Care providers and their clients and primary carers will now face, and the public servants who will lose their jobs - all the people who will find it difficult to live and to make ends meet.
Mr Speaker, if you were a middle-level ACT public servant earning around $35,000 per year you would probably have a standard size family of two kids, maybe three, who would go to school or to preschool. You would, because of your family, need to drive at least a family sized motor vehicle, perhaps larger. You would probably have insurance premiums to pay. Your kids may catch the bus to school and back. In fact, if you drive them one way and get them to catch the bus the other way, the Government has you coming and going. Your living expenses generally would be high and would leave you with little discretionary income, little left to spend, particularly if you were a one-income family. This is not an unusual scenario, Mr Speaker. In fact, such a person could be described as fairly common, the Canberra battler.