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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1365 ..

Mr Stanhope: The one from Bernard Collaery is a ripper. Read Bernard's letter, Harold.

MR SPEAKER: Order! I would much rather read Bernard Shaw, frankly.

MR HIRD: Chief Minister, just to put my earlier question about voluntary redundancies in the proper context, what was the ACT's unemployment rate in, say, mid-1993 and what is it today?

MS CARNELL: Thank you. In July 1993, when Labor offered redundancies totalling $17m, the ACT's trend unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent, Mr Speaker. Right now, as at March 1999, it is 5.9 per cent, a full 1.6 percentage points lower. I think on that basis I can rest my case.

Public Service - Size

MR BERRY: We will see what sort of a brazen explanation you can come up with in answer to this question, Chief Minister. In the lead-up to the 1998 Assembly election, in the most misleading and dishonest Liberal election promise, you said to the ACT public servants that the pain was over. On page 1 of the Canberra Times on 9 February 1998 you promised to abandon plans for any more cuts to the ACT Public Service and to use the $5m of unspent redundancy money on a range of job creation, health, education and other programs. In your policy launch, to cap it off, you said, "The pain was over and with the Public Service cut from 20,000 to about 17,000 over the past three years, restructuring was now largely complete". Not so. Now, Chief Minister, you are planning to spend $16m axing Public Service jobs. Let us see if you can come up with a satisfactory though brazen explanation for your change of heart.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, you just cannot help but love him, can you? The man got up at the last election and launched "Working Capital" that used the cash line in the balance sheet to fund all his promises. You cash managed your whole election campaign and spent the cash line in the balance sheet. Mr Speaker, you have to laugh.

Mr Hird: But it's serious.

MS CARNELL: Unfortunately, it is important. Mr Speaker, the commitment that we gave at the last election campaign was that systemic changes to the ACT Public Service were over, and that is actually the truth. We said that the days of the 2 per cent across-the-board cuts to all areas at the same levels were well and truly over. We indicated that the days of central redundancy pools were gone. When I was asked during many of those debates whether that meant there would be no more redundancies, I said, "No, of course there will be, because there will always be redundancies in any dynamic government".

Mr Berry: Now the pain is over.

MR SPEAKER: If you continue to interject, Mr Berry, it will not be over for you.

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