Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 1929 ..
MS CARNELL: Has he withdrawn?
Mr Humphries: Come on, you insisted on Mr Moore withdrawing. You have to withdraw as well.
Mr Stanhope: I was waiting for the Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Very well, will you withdraw?
Mr Stanhope: Mr Speaker was treating the issue with the scorn that it deserves.
MR SPEAKER: Order!
Mr Stanhope: Mr Speaker, I withdraw in the same terms as Mr Moore.
MR SPEAKER: Thank you. I do not want any more of this nonsense for the rest of the day, thank you. I call the Chief Minister.
MS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The social benefits accruing to the ACT community as a result of the Government's policies are borne out by a current article by Access Economics in the Business Review Weekly which shows that the ACT outperforms all Australian States and Territories in the key social indicators of the proportion of low-income earners, wage and salary earnings and welfare dependency. Sadly, Mr Speaker, there appears to be little acceptance in the report of these benefits. In fact, from reading the committee's introduction, it could be concluded that they believe that achieving improved financial outcomes and achieving improved social outcomes are mutually exclusive.
Mr Speaker, it must be stressed that responsible financial management is the mechanism by which improved social outcomes have been and can continue to be achieved. It appears that there is no comprehension on behalf of some members of the committee that reducing the cost of services that have been proven in many forums to be well above standard is a desirable outcome. In fact, Mr Speaker, there is an imputation that reducing the cost of services means fewer services or lower quality services, regardless of how overpriced a service may be. There is no recognition that if services cost less, there would be more money to go to other services. There is no understanding that it is possible to reduce the cost of a service without reducing the quality of a service. There is no recognition that it is essential to keep expenditure under control so that future generations will have some chance of enjoying the quality of life that we enjoy now.
Mr Speaker, the committee states that the budget is regressive in nature because of its dependence on increases in fees and charges and its reduction in expenditures which are largely taken to the meeting of social needs. The committee cannot have it both ways. No government can carry out its obligations to the community if it does not have the flexibility to match its funding to the meeting of its priorities. Of course, the Government has one option to fund increased services without increasing revenue or making savings elsewhere, as the committee seems to suggest. That option is to borrow and thereby increase the liabilities for future generations.
Mr Quinlan: We are flogging assets.