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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1469 ..

MR SPEAKER: Order! Let me just explain to members. There is a resolution of this house as of last Tuesday that at 3 o'clock today, Thursday, we would move to the Appropriation Bill for a response from the Leader of the Opposition. I am in no position to overturn that resolution. It is a matter for the Assembly itself to do so. Irrespective of what has gone on subsequent to that resolution on Tuesday, we must proceed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Debate resumed from 4 May 1999, on motion by Ms Carnell:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: I call Mr Stanhope, and I would ask members of the Assembly to respect Mr Stanhope's speech with the same silence accorded to the Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (3.03): I am sorry for that bit of delay and confusion, members, but I am sure the speech is worth waiting for. Mr Speaker, in launching into this response to the Chief Minister's introduction of the 1999-2000 budget, I will, if you will forgive me, reflect briefly on the Chief Minister's fondness for the crass one-liner. In the chase for a snappy headline, the Chief Minister's capacity for crassness is well known, and one does have to wonder about the appropriateness of some of her remarks.

The cost of the water abstraction charge will be about 60c a week. "Just the cost of a packet of fruit tingles", said a very Marie Antoinette-ish Mrs Carnell. Let them eat cake indeed! It is a budget that goes the full monty, the Chief Minister said. "Perhaps without the hat", she told the Assembly two days ago. It is worth remembering that the film she refers to - and I have referred to this before, and an excellent film it was, too - was a film about a group of dispirited and despairing redundant workers. One contemplated suicide, you will recall. And, although the human spirit prevailed in the film's storyline, redundancy is not a flippant matter, as too many Canberrans can attest.

This budget, of course, relies heavily on the next round of cuts the Government will inflict on its Public Service. Mrs Carnell's bottom line is drawn straight from the Treasury to the departure lounges. It is a mystery flight to nowhere. The budget identifies 450 public servants who will have to go the full monty. There are 450 families who will feel the direct and chilling effect of Mrs Carnell's fifth budget. This cut - 2 per cent, on top of those that have already gone - puts the lie to the Chief Minister's claim that the days of the systemic cuts to the ACT government service were over. Remember, this is the Chief Minister that went to the last election 15 months ago with the claim that the pain was over; that public servants could relax.

Ms Carnell: It is. That is why we are going into the black.

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