Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1075 ..
Mr Berry: Thanks for the lecture, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (3.55): I think it is time to cut through the bull and get down to what this budget is on about, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. There is no doubt that this Government is about ensuring that we have a clever and caring capital. On many occasions I have stood up to make comments on the budget and on every one of those occasions, whether there has been a Labor government or a Liberal government, I have taken the opportunity to draw attention to the problems I saw in the budget and also to ensure that I gave credit where it was due. Indeed, Ms Tucker used that technique in her speech.
I think the difficulty here is that we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition basically a speech about the Federal election. It should have been focused on the budget that was brought before us. Why would he do that? Well, he had no choice. He had no choice because he knew that what we have here is a very effective budget, and a budget that Labor could never have brought down. They certainly could not have achieved anywhere near as effective a budget, considering the constraints that were put on us.
Speaking of the constraints, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, Labor would do very well to read an article by Mr Crispin Hull in the Canberra Times just prior to the budget in which he set out what the restrictions were on somebody who was trying to put together a budget in the ACT. We also could read in the Canberra Times a comment from Mr David Hughes, associate director of the Australian Centre for Regional and Local Government Studies at the University of Canberra, certainly until recently. He wrote:
If the Budget does attempt to reduce expenditure in some programs, the many critics who will step forward to voice their disapproval should have the decency to tell us how they would deal with the operating loss.
Is that what Labor did? No, not at all. Instead, they said you cannot raise revenue. Almost every revenue raising measure in this budget is absolutely critical. Indeed, the same group has been critical any time that I have ever suggested a revenue raising measure, but they do not want to have smaller government. There are a limited number of choices. If they go back to the Canberra Times and read Mr Hull's comments about what those limited number of choices are, that might be a starting point for getting them to understand what responsible fiscal management is about. If they had read that sort of thing some years ago we would not be looking at the sort of operating loss that we are dealing with at the moment, and we would not be dealing with the sort of debt that was delivered to us by a Labor government.
Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, we are about a healthy, safe, diverse and contributing community, and in fact we set that out. Ms Tucker, who has now had her words and gone, drew attention to that; but maybe she will read this in Hansard, or maybe she is listening in her office. She drew attention to page 5 of Budget Paper No. 3 and said,