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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2368 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

I do not want to say too much more about this because we have heard most of it. I just want to repeat that I believe that the initiative is a tax concession. I accept much of what the government has said but it is an ill-targeted tax concession because it does not target any particular group. Usually a tax concession is distributed equitably or it is targeted at those that are disadvantaged. That is not the case here. It is more likely to advantage the well off, those that can afford to send kids to private schools, than it is to advantage the disadvantaged in our community. I think that is the grave fault of this tax concession. The point has been made, and I think made very well, that if this much money is lying around then it ought to be targeted towards education.

The hyperbole that goes with this budget talks, amongst other things, about vision and innovation. We talk about the educated capital. We talk about participation rates in the ACT. Yet, we know that at the international level our economy and our development is starting to be criticised. We are starting to be accused of falling behind. The Productivity Commission has shown that any advantage that the ACT might have had in developing its primary asset is also falling away under this government.

I have said in this place that I do not believe this is a case of an election promise being honoured. That is just so much nonsense. You made a promise in 1995, you dishonoured it, you did not make it in 1998 and then you have dredged it up now, not as an election promise but as a last minute attempt to sling some money at the electorate to buy a few votes. There is no groundswell of support for this. Certainly the Catholic Education Office and the Parent and Friends of Independent Schools were looking for a single zone bus fare, and that seemed to be a very logical thing to do. Of course, being logical it has been picked up by this side of the house.

But this is quite clearly an election ploy and, if it is an election ploy, I think it should be taken to the electorate. The government, with, as we have now established, the support of its coalition partners, will commit a large slice of this money before the electorate is given the chance to have a say.

This quite divisive manoeuvre does the government a certain amount of discredit. Even though it is a give, it still fits within that mean and nasty frame. You are introducing a divisiveness into our community. You are hoping to gain an advantage by picking up more of the middle votes than you might lose by not spending the money on education. It is nothing to do with trying to improve society; it is nothing to do with trying to improve the lot of the group of people in our community that need it. So I do not think the government can claim that it has a noble end-by definition, I think it has an ignoble end, and that is buy a few votes.

It is a ploy. It is a ploy that I guess you would only take if you thought, "If we don't do something we will lose." It might be a smart ploy at the end of the day and it might work-we will only know in October. I certainly hope that it does not work. I certainly hope that it blows up in your face, because that is what you deserve.

MR RUGENDYKE (5.38): Mr Deputy Speaker, I think it is important to make the point that in the report I compiled I did consider that the free bus money was badly prioritised by the government.

Mr Berry: Are you squirming, Dave?

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