Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3554 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
approach to budgetary policy. Rather than your deficit absorbing any additional resources, Mr Treasurer, you are adding to the supply of resources. This is the classic public policy approach as set out by Keynes to economies that experienced difficulties. In any event, as I have already commented, why, at this time of economic buoyancy, is the government spending so heavily? Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, hypocrisy is alive and well.
Let's turn to the much delayed white-or should we call it rapidly turning yellow?-paper. In his key speech as shadow Treasurer in June 2001, Mr Quinlan promised that all the reports on economic opportunities for Canberra and the region "need to be balanced by a hard-headed assessment of all the opportunities and distilled down to the prospects that should be pursued with absolute vigour". Two years of vigour-that's what we've had, Mr Deputy Speaker-and it is quite clear from this statement that there have been enough reports and what is needed now is action. It appears that Mr Quinlan's action would be the preparation of an economic white paper that would be "that hard-headed assessment of all the opportunities and distilled down to the prospects that should be pursued with absolute vigour". Unfortunately, he does not actually say anywhere that his white paper would be that.
Soon after taking government, in April 2002, the Chief Minister said about the proposed economic white paper, "If nothing else, we will, through the white paper, provide a framework against which business groups, planning authorities and the government can determine with greater certainty the likely future policy directions of development activity."Where are we now, Mr Deputy Speaker, in September 2003? What progress has been made? We do not have an economic white paper. On the contrary, we have, as you guessed it, more reports and a discussion paper on the economic white paper, but no white paper, no policy guidance to investors and the community, no greater certainty that likely future policy directions of development activity might give.
The discussion paper lists 13 economic reports that were completed in 2002 and early 2003. Mr Deputy Speaker, I should repeat that. At least 13 reports have been commissioned by this government to assist in the preparation of the promised economic white paper. This outcome is both tragic and ridiculous. We have a government that said that we have enough reports "to fill a moderately-sized bookcase", according to the then shadow Treasurer, yet another 13 reports at least have been generated. What do we have to show for the 13 reports in two years and well over half a million dollars worth of government expenditure? We have a discussion paper. To make matters worse, the Treasurer, who is part of the team that promised open and accountable government, released a fax about the discussion paper as an aside during a committee hearing of the Assembly.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the process leading to the ephemeral economic white paper has been nothing but a public policy disaster. We have since learnt that the bureaucracy did draft an economic white paper towards the end of 2002 and, for reasons that are not public at present, the government decided not to proceed with that document and, instead, proceeded down the discussion paper path-anything to avoid a decision.
We are still waiting, the business community is still waiting and the community at large is still waiting for this government to deliver on the promised white paper. And still we wait, without the framework that this government has said is so important to guide and