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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1249 ..

MR CORBELL: Spend, spend, spend! Spend by paying public servants what they are worth! I am happy for you to be on the record on that, Mr Humphries.

Let me give you a comparison, Mr Humphries. The best case scenario is that some classifications in clerical staff are 10 per cent behind their counterparts in the Commonwealth. They are 10 per cent behind in what they are paid. In the worst cases, some classifications are 17 per cent behind. How can you expect this territory to attract and retain effective personnel when you do not set aside the money in the budget? That is the challenge we have.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member's time has expired.

MS DUNDAS (4.30): Mr Deputy Speaker, by this matter of public importance, the state of the economy is said to be robust. That has allowed the Liberal and Labor Party members of this Assembly to argue about who are the better economic managers. I look forward to the day when we discuss a matter of public importance on the robust state of the community, or the robust state of the health of our people. It is not just the state of the economy that is a measure of a government's success or failure, but today we are talking about the economy.

One question that has been raised is how the commission of audit and the independent consultant, Mr Paul Blessington, using exactly the same figures, have come up with different answers. This is not startling news. In fact, it is quite normal to ask two economists the same question and get two completely different answers.

We clearly have two agendas at work. The government wishes to paint a bleak picture so that any new programs that come out of the budget are seen as noteworthy, whilst the Liberal Party wish to say that they were excellent economic managers and that the Labor Party is wrong.

I put it to this Assembly that the community is fed up with petty bickering over the surplus or deficit. Further, I put it to you that many members of the community are more concerned about services than the bottom line of the territory on any particular date-be that the end of October or the end of December.

During the recent public consultations undertaken by this Assembly's committees regarding the budget, submissions did not speak about surplus or deficit, they spoke about needs met and unmet.

Mr Deputy Speaker, there is one constant in the budget consultation papers, the commission of audit report, and the Liberal Party report-they are all predictable and political. The Treasurer is deliberately talking-down the ACT economy to engage Mr Humphries in a petty war over the size of their surpluses. The Treasurer has taken the most conservative estimates to try to paint a bleak picture of the ACT economy, in the hope that negative talk does not discourage investment in the ACT. I trust this rhetoric is seen for what it is.

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