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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1721 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

owing to the illness of the secretary, we were delayed a tad. We had hoped to table the report in this sitting period. Unfortunately, we were unable to finish the inquiry in that time and I seek the agreement of the chamber that we table that report out of session, because it would be most helpful if members got hold of a copy of the report and considered it in preparation for debate in a later session.

I am sure that members have been in this situation before and that they will agree that this is a particularly difficult issue. I thank members for their support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

It being 3.00 pm, business was interrupted pursuant to the order of the Assembly.

Appropriation Bill 2003-2004

Debate resumed from 6 May 2003, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (3.00): Mr Speaker, considering that I was expecting massive revenue from a buoyant economy, solid jobs growth, and low interest rates, I was expecting a wonderful budget from a wonderful Treasurer, but it was not to be. Instead, we got a mediocre budget from a mediocre government.

I think it is fair to say that the people of Canberra had high expectations of this new Labor government. After all, they did say that they would be low taxing; that they would deliver better value for money; that they would have plans for the city and that they knew where we were going. What have the people of Canberra got? According to this budget, none of the above.

Mr Speaker, in the 2002-2003 financial year, the government has received the most enormous increase in revenue. They received $288 million in extra revenue. A component of that-$105 million-is insurance receipts. Let us take that off. What we have is a government receiving an unplanned and unexpected windfall of $183 million-a difference of $189 million on the December forecast.

To give this extra $183 million in revenue a sense of scale, the budget for the Canberra Hospital-the single most expensive item in any ACT budget-this year is $281 million. Calvary Public Hospital this year cost $76 million. The revenue windfall could run two Calvary Hospitals for a year, or two-thirds of the Canberra Hospital for a year. In all, for the financial year 2002-2003, the government will have spent $2.430 billion. According to the budget papers from last year, the government intended to spend $2.197 billion. For the benefit of the Treasurer, the $2.197 billion is clearly stated on page 5 of budget paper 2.

In the broad, the government has overspent its estimate for the 2002-2003 year to the tune of $233 million. What did we get for this money? Or, more to the point, what did the Canberra community get for their money? What did the taxpayers of the ACT get for that money? You would have to say not much. I have to ask, Mr Speaker: how can so little cost us, as a community, so much?

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