Page 785 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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MRS DUNNE: I ask a supplementary question. Earlier in his answer the Acting Treasurer gave an exposition of what the ACT government was doing in accordance with the intergovernmental agreement. Minister, why have you chosen not to act unilaterally to abolish any of these minor taxes, as has been the case in other states?

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, before you answer that question, I have asked the opposition not to interject so many times. I am not going to tolerate it any further.

MR STANHOPE: As I said, I am pleased with the progress that we have made in the ACT. We have abolished taxes in two particular areas. A third will be abolished before the end of this financial year. We have made significant changes to the payment of stamp duty for first home buyers in the ACT. I am mindful, though, and I find it passing strange that, in an environment where the commonwealth has increased rates, where all householders find that their household disposable income for the day-to-day living expenses which we all meet are affected to the tune of $50 a month and potentially, say, $100 a month if it goes up another quarter of a per cent, we already have the shadow Treasurer coming out and criticising pay increases to nurses and teachers and other public officials and public servants across the board within the ACT, saying that none of them deserves the pay rises they got and that under a Liberal government there will be no more pay rises for public servants.

What do we have here? What is the mix? What is the cocktail? Yesterday we heard it in question time: “How do you justify spending all this money on the provision of services? Do you concede you are paying your public servants too much? Are some of the issues that we face, and the prospect of a tight budget, to do with the fact that we pay our doctors and our nurses and our teachers and our police officers too much money? The problem with the ACT economy,” say Mr Mulcahy and the Liberal party to us and to the people of Canberra, “is that you’re paying your public servants too much. You’re paying nurses too high a wage. You’re paying those teachers too much. You shouldn’t have given those pay rises. You’re spending too much money on health and education.” This is the message we got yesterday and have got over the past couple of weeks from the shadow Treasurer, “You’re paying too much to your public servants. You’re providing too many services. How do you justify it?” That is what we got yesterday. They say, “How do you justify spending all this money on education, on health and on the provision of other essential services for the people of the ACT?”

Mr Stefaniak: I raise a point of order. I refer to standing order 118(a), and probably (b). The supplementary question was: why has the ACT government chosen not to act unilaterally to abolish any of these minor taxes? That has absolutely nothing to do with what the Chief Minister is talking to at present. In addition, under (b), I think he is debating the subject, so I think he has offended under both paragraphs.

MR SPEAKER: I have to say, Mr Stefaniak, that the minister reflecting on the costs to government is in the context of the question that Mrs Dunne asked. She asked why certain taxes had not been withdrawn. It is consistent with the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: I conclude by saying that it is perfectly consistent. In an environment where interest rates have just gone up and average householders are paying $50 a month

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