Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1250 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Continually missing from this debate are key commitments to encouraging investment in the ACT and to helping the disadvantaged in our community, so that all Canberrans can enjoy the level of services and quality of life they deserve. The real questions are not being asked. Are Canberrans getting the services they deserve? Can we afford better?

So please note, Treasurer, and the immediate past Treasurer, that these are the real questions Canberrans want answered. When it comes to budget surpluses and deficits, size does not always matter-it is how you use it that counts.

MR SMYTH (4.33): Ms Dundas spoke about the things that concerned Canberrans and, on some of those things, she was right, Mr Deputy Speaker. When we came to office in 1995 the key concern was jobs. In looking at what has been achieved in the past six years, I think it is important to start with where we were, and where we got to.

In 1995, when we came into office, unemployment in this territory was at 7.1 per cent. Through our efforts, unemployment is now about 4.2 to 4.3 per cent. That is through the economic management that we put in place; it is through our encouragement of business and investment, and it is through the programs that we had. That was against the backdrop of an opposition that continually drove Canberra down by playing to the negative and never looking to the positive. What we did-here I tempt the wrath of the Treasurer-was make up for their $344 million operating loss. That figure is well documented and well sheeted-home to the previous Labor government.

There were other things people need to remember which confronted us in 1995. One of those was the state of the land market-the land market run by the then government. For four successive years, the government, as land developers, had flooded the market in a vain attempt to balance their budgets, of which they were incapable.

I raise the spectre of that happening again, but hope it does not happen again. For the first two years that we were in government, we did not sell a block of land, or if we did, we sold very few. From my memory, we did not sell any land. The market was in a poor state because of the economic mismanagement of the previous Labor government.

What do we have now? We have a positioning strategy that says, "We have promised some things that we now realise we cannot afford to deliver on. We need to blame somebody, because we will not own up and say that our estimates in the lead-up to the election were incorrect."

A classic case of that is for the Labor Party to get back into land development. Their incoming government brief says approximately $75 million a year for two years, to build up a stock of land before you get any return. I will be very interested to see if that $75 million appears in the budget. If it does, it will take us straight back into deficit and it will be the Labor government and their policies that do that.

I think we have just heard the first pre-budget leak-that there is a big pay rise coming for ACT public servants. The unfortunate side of government is that you have a limited pot of money on which to live and you have to allocate to make sure that you have a balance of programs across a balance of areas, to deliver the maximum good effect for the maximum number of Canberrans.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .