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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1694 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

should not be there. I understand from a report that was bandied around yesterday that a road on either side of the AIS is now not a good thing.

I move back to the budget. It includes construction works on the Defence Network Operations Centre. How embarrassing was that for the federal government in terms of where we were going to spend the money and where the centre was going to be placed. And wasn't that also a vote-buying exercise in Eden-Monaro?

The actual capital funding to flow from the federal budget to the ACT in the near future could not be considered funding on a grand scale.

When you look at the grants funding, you see some ups and downs. You see some decreases in housing and community care, for example. Overall, it looks quite flat, particularly if you factor out of those grants the middle-class welfare that was part of the vote-buying budget of last year-the concessions to the class of people whose support the government decided to try to acquire by the expenditure of public funds in the lead-up to the election. That is rather disappointing, given the predictions that are supposedly in the intergenerational assessment and given that there is general acceptance of a growth in need for disability, aged and health services.

Public service numbers will increase overall but we do not know where. I made the comment yesterday that a lot of the money in the budget is there for border protection and that I do not think it will be for protecting the ACT borders. So it is likely that some of those positions will not be in the ACT, but I do expect that there will be an addition to the number of brass hats in Defence and the police force. At least the numbers in the ACT may hold, with increases in taxation offsetting decreases in the Bureau of Statistics and the Electoral Commission following an election and census year.

Of concern to the community is the tightening, the reduction, the crackdown-whatever euphemism you want to use-in the disability pension that will affect so many people. I want to put on the record here some words that were included by Amanda Vanstone in a letter she wrote to accompany the budget. She said that the change in conditions and eligibility for the disability pension was to encourage people with disabilities to maximise their potential.

Mr Humphries: That is fair enough. What is wrong with that?

MR QUINLAN: I am happy for you to repeat them wherever you like, Mr Humphries. It virtually says to the disabled, "You are not being ripped off by your government. This is for your own good." I think Senator Vanstone used the most unfortunate of terms in trying to sell this process whereby disabled people will be paying for increases in detention centres.

There have been claims that the Howard government has done well by reducing Labor's debt. I will tell you how they reduced Labor's debt: they flogged off Telstra. Big deal! This is the feat of economic management.

Mr Humphries: Which you were going to do anyway.

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