Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1095 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (5.09): Mr Speaker, in the absence of the Treasurer and as Assistant Treasurer I am closing the debate, so if there are any other members who want to speak they should do so before I begin.
MR SPEAKER: I understand that.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I have listened to this debate and I must say that I was struck on this occasion by a little bit more variety in the offerings than we have had in the last few years in the budget debate. In some previous years there has been a wall of criticism generally playing around particular themes which seem to emerge out of the woodwork and sometimes do not have much bearing on reality. But this year there has been a variety of offerings; in fact, so much so that I rather feel inclined to make some awards. I have done this traditionally at the end of each year, as ongoing members would recall, but I thought this year I would award some early because I missed out last year. I had laryngitis, as members might recall.
Mr Speaker, to Ms Tucker I award the "If only I had read page 6 award" for missing the vital bit about the environment. Mr Stanhope, as Leader of the Opposition, receives the award for the shortest budget reply in history. He took only 20 minutes when he had an entitlement of twice that to respond to the Treasurer's budget speech of 40 minutes. Mr Quinlan is not present, but Mr Quinlan receives the "Of course I am not after Jon's job, but was that not a statesmanlike speech award". There is a tied vote, Mr Speaker, for the award for letting the cat out of the bag and for giving credit where credit is due. There is a tied vote between, on the one hand, Mr Rugendyke for his frankness about where the budget actually, miraculously apparently, got things right, and a rather surprising late entry, Mr Wood, who said more good things about the budget than I think his colleagues wanted to hear.
Mr Stefaniak: Put together.
MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed, put together. Mr Kaine gets the "shadow Treasurer award" for actually daring to analyse the budget, and Mr Hargreaves gets the "missing in action award".
Mr Speaker, if only there was as much to laugh about in the response from the official Opposition as there might have been in other parts of this debate today. Regrettably, what we have here is a fairly unedifying example of what the alternative government, the official Opposition, has to offer by way of a different view, an alternative view, about where this Territory should be heading. We have deduced some fairly simple things, and unfortunately they are not new.
The Opposition has attacked the Government's revenue measures; it has attacked the expenditure reductions; and it has attacked the growth forecasts. So, we are wrong in areas where we have chosen to raise money; we are wrong for cutting back expenditure where we have; and we are wrong in estimating the growth level we have. Obviously, we have been too ambitious, according to the Opposition, and obviously also,