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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1547 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

governments made the biggest steps in bringing ACT revenues into line with New South Wales, something we have often heard about in this Assembly. They took the biggest steps. The fact remains that the current Chief Minister is deriving benefit from the activities, or in some circumstances the lack of activity, of those earlier governments.

In the last two or three years the Chief Minister has taken something like half a billion dollars out of the assets of the ACT - half a billion dollars. I remember interjecting on the Chief Minister in one of her budget speeches, "You must think that ACTEW has got some hollow logs", and she said, "Yes". I do not know whether there were hollow logs, but the $300m this year, the sale of buildings and the money from ACTEW in earlier years - about half a billion dollars - that the Chief Minister has used in recent budgets was there, was nurtured, and was not used in Labor Party times, and she is now deriving the benefit of that. There is no great magic about the Chief Minister's budgets. There is nothing special about them. There is no great genius behind them. It is simply the utilisation of the assets that have existed right through the days of self-government. That is what it is about. That is the difference between the Chief Minister's budgets and the Labor budgets. She has used those assets in a different way. Maybe she should thank the Labor Party for leaving that money there for her to employ in this budget and in other budgets.

MR CORBELL (9.05): My colleagues Mr Quinlan, Mr Wood and Mr Stanhope have all raised a range of issues in relation to this budget which highlight the Opposition's concern with it. Mr Quinlan addressed the issue of superannuation in a way which puts the lie to much of the claims made by the Government about its concern and its efforts to address this issue. Mr Stanhope raised issues relating to the crass and heartless approach taken by this Government in relation to voluntary redundancies. Mr Wood has just outlined the human impact of decisions such as changes in the housing area.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, before I embark upon looking at some of the areas of the budget which I have concerns about, I want to make one overall comment. We hear again in the budget papers and in the speech on Tuesday of the Chief Minister and Treasurer that this budget is achieving the results at the bottom line that the Territory needs. The focus of this budget is overwhelmingly financial in terms of its ends. The ACT Council of Social Service itself has said that that is, in itself, a commendable action - and that is debatable in some aspects - but there is little to demonstrate that it is addressing the social needs of the community. They are not my words, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker; they are the words of the ACT Council of Social Service.

Those comments, when I heard them yesterday, made me think of a book I read about a year ago which reflected on the prevailing economic ideology embraced by governments of various persuasions over the past decade or so. This book said, in essence, that the focus on achieving bottom line financial outcomes with the promise that the pain was necessary to achieve the social needs of a community was in many respects a focus on a false promise, but our community has collectively, nationally, over a period of several decades been offered the promise that the pain was necessary as good times were ahead.

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