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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1610 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

This levy is also very offensive because it does hurt those who are least able to pay, particularly the elderly, as I said, but other families too. The insurance bill is a very big bill for a lot of families in our society. More and more people are experiencing poverty. There is increasing unemployment and an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. This is another measure which, I believe, is making it more difficult for an increasingly large group of people in our community to survive. The bills are just getting too big and too many.

There is also, of course, the point of consultation and the process here. How this policy was decided upon is of grave concern to the Greens. We echo other members who have spoken today when we say that we would expect, if there was going to be this kind of policy, to be consulted, and that the community would expect to be consulted. In fact, if the Government had done that they probably would not be looking as silly as they are looking today because they would have realised that this was a really bad policy and it would not go down well. The really unfortunate thing, of course, is that it is probably going to get up because Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke are so quietly and consistently supportive of this Government. It means, therefore, that this Government can basically do as it will.

Mr Moore: It is the budget. Does the Government have a budget or not?

MS TUCKER: Mr Moore interjects, "It is the budget". He knows as well as anybody - he used that power himself when he was in the position of Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke - that they have incredible power that they could be using to influence the Government when they go the wrong way. It is pretty clear that most people in the ACT think this is the wrong way.

Mr Moore: Not in the budget.

MS TUCKER: Mr Moore interjects, "Not in the budget". I am sorry, Mr Moore; most people in the community think that you held this Government to ransom on the budget over education. It was a bottom line that you put. There is an opportunity for members of the crossbench, if there is real openness, to challenge the Government at any point and say, "Sorry, this is not acceptable". This could have been said. But perhaps Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne were not consulted on this matter before the budget either. Then, as Mr Moore says, "This was something that came out of the budget that they had no knowledge of"; in which case, what a lot it says for how consultative this minority Government is with the crossbench that it depends on to stay in power.

We will not be supporting this inequitable and inappropriate tax.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.44): I must say I am surprised that the first time that Mr Kaine has the opportunity to speak on a budget Bill, although earlier in the day the Stamp Duties and Taxes (Amendment) Bill went through without his - - -

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