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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3559 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

whatever, I have difficulty really telling you what I think. I am hamstrung and frustrated because to use that figure and to attribute it to Labor and to do it over and over again, and it is being done by the lot of you, not just one, is a commentary-

Mrs Burke: You don't like it, do you, when the boot is on the other foot, Treasurer?

MR QUINLAN: No, I do not like it. It is not true, Mrs Burke.

Mrs Burke: There are lots of things you have said that aren't true.

MR QUINLAN: Mrs Burke, I am not so fussed about you because you do not know, do you? You do not even know. Anyway, I will close by repeating that we have in this place a shadow Treasurer who is absolutely unqualified for that job let alone this job.

MR STEFANIAK (5.51): Mr Deputy Speaker, methinks he doth protest too much. I have sat in this Assembly for a long time and I do not think that I have ever seen so many supplementary appropriation bills. I accept that occasionally you do need them, but I do not think you can justify the plethora we have seen. That, in itself, says a little bit about management.

I hate to say it, Treasurer, but it is a fairly well known fact in Australian politics that Labor governments traditionally are not exactly too crash hot in terms of managing the economy. We are starting to see a little bit of that here. My colleague set out a litany of instances that demonstrate some very poor quality management of this portfolio by the present Treasurer. I give the Treasurer some credence by saying that I am sure he is doing a hell of a lot better than any of his colleagues would do. I would hate to see some of them in charge of the purse strings. Maybe he is a little hamstrung at times by them, but he is the Treasurer and has to wear all that. But there are some very real problems here.

There are a number of other instances to add to what my colleague Mr Smyth has talked about. Let me start with the January bushfire disaster and the financial fallout from those fires. Quite soon after 18 January both the Chief Minister and the Treasurer were widely quoted about the value of assets destroyed in the bushfires and about the associated costs of recovery that were being met by the ACT. The comment made by those two ministers at the time was that the response from the government would require an additional tax, the bushfire tax, and the deferral of capital projects such as the proposed prison.

As soon as the government mentioned a bushfire tax, we in the Liberal Party said that no such response would be necessary. As it turned out, we were proven to be correct. The government's proposed bushfire tax, which was included in the 2003-04 budget, has been scrapped in the face of a continuing surge in revenue coming into the government's coffers and considerable public dissatisfaction with that proposal.

We pointed out that the ACT had a wide range of potential sources of funds to assist in paying for the recovery from the bushfires and that, until they had been considered and had been either committed or ruled out, it was premature to speak of a bushfire tax. Also, we considered it to be quite inappropriate to speak of a bushfire tax so soon after the devastation and the aftermath of the disasters.

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