Page 698 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2005

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MR SPEAKER: I think it is in order for the Chief Minister to talk about the relevant positions of people in respect of their public servants. I think it is relevant.

MR SMYTH: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, secondment normally means that someone is coming back. Under section 29C of the Public Sector Management Act, secondments are allowed, including executives. Why did you not use that portion of the act instead of creating the myth of the Office of the Special Adviser?

MR STANHOPE: We created no myth. Let me repeat that we supported a reasonable pay rise for our public servants, our hardworking public servants. We would not have taken the attitude that Mr Mulcahy and the Liberal Party have taken of suggesting that public servants do not deserve reasonable pay.

Government expenditure

MR STEFANIAK: My question is directed to the Acting Treasurer. I refer to media reports warning of a horror budget this year. Why has the ACT government increased expenditure over three years by 25 per cent, when inflation has increased by only seven per cent? Why has the government not been able to maintain fiscal discipline?

MR STANHOPE: Just for the sake of completeness and understanding, at no stage did I use the words “horror budget”. They are very much the words of the Canberra Times; they are not my words. In an interview that I did, I indicated that there would be a tight budget. I indicated that certainly the national economy was slowing; that there are certainly significant problems nationally in relation to the balance of payments and, as a response, interest rates have gone up. Interest rates have gone up because of the management of the national economy by Peter Costello and the Liberal Party nationally, despite the rhetoric of the last election campaign.

I was talking to the journalist about the economic and fiscal outlook, and the suggestions being put by the federal Treasurer about the position in relation to GST payments; the fact that consumption had revved up. There is now an attempt by the Reserve Bank to dampen down, to reduce, consumption. Of course, the greatest tool—the lever moved in relation to that—is a move in interest rates. We have just seen that, and as a result the average mortgage in Australia has gone up by $40 to $50 a month—a little post-election Christmas present from the Liberal Party to the people of Australia.

Mr Smyth: And when you worked for federal Labor, it only got to 18 per cent!

MR STANHOPE: Your mortgage payments have just gone up by $40 or $50 a month, courtesy of Peter Costello. I was talking about these things. I was talking about the evident slowdown in the national economy and the fact that there would be a downward trend in land sales. As a result of slowing in the housing market, there would be fewer stamp duty receipts, fewer conveyancing duty receipts—and that a responsible government—a government such as mine—

Mr Smyth: Profligate spending. Spend it all!

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