Page 1783 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Gentleman. It is important that the people of Canberra have an opportunity to understand what will be in the Liberals’ alternative budget tomorrow. The rationale and the basis for the decisions will be revealed tomorrow in the response.

There were many aspects of the presentation and responses by the shadow Treasurer this morning that came as some surprise, I think, to all of us, for example, not being gratuitously offensive about it, the complete lack of grasp or understanding that he has of the budgetary process.

It is interesting—and everybody should know and understand—that Mr Mulcahy this morning took the opportunity to sneer at decisions taken by the government included within the budget in relation to the funding of a human rights commission and to our continued commitment to a community inclusion on a board which is doing fantastic work in relation to addressing issues around disadvantage, disconnection and poverty within the ACT. Indeed, Mr Mulcahy also expressed major surprise and concern that we were prepared to continue to support the social plan with significant funding and even going to the point of actually funding a review, analysis and report on the implementation of the social plan.

I think perhaps a week or so ago I would have been surprised by the vehemence of Mr Mulcahy’s attack on these things until I learnt—I have only been advised of this; I have not had it confirmed; I would be happy for Mr Mulcahy to confirm it today in relation to this hardline view he takes on social issues—that at the last Liberal Party policy council it was Mr Mulcahy who led the charge, taking over from Mr Stefaniak, on the introduction of the death penalty in the ACT. I guess, in that particular context, his attitude to the social plan really should not surprise any of us.

One of the issues of enormous concern is the dismissive attitude adopted by Mr Mulcahy in relation to the unanticipated expenditure the government has faced over the last three years in relation, for instance, to child protection and the need to respond in a very direct way to the recommendations of the Gallop report and the McLeod report—initiatives which, over the last three years, have been funded to the tune of some hundreds of millions of dollars in resources and funded in the budget for the outyears. Mr Mulcahy insisted that all of these issues, all of this expenditure, should have been included within the budget bottom line as an anticipated or expected incident of government; that the government should have in place, in the circumstance of the situation, the wherewithal to deal with the outcomes of the bushfire, to deal with the recommendations of the Vardon inquiry in relation to the need for us to better protect our children and the need for us to actually support and respond to people with a disability.

What a remarkable statement for a shadow Treasurer to make: the hundreds of millions of dollars expended and anticipated and budgeted for were just part and parcel of the day-to-day business of government that they should have been included. This is from a mob that did not even include in the outyears in government any allocation or provision for pay rises.

Yet Mr Mulcahy, the shadow Treasurer, would have us believe that we should have been able to anticipate and have built into our bottom line the $80 million or $90 million that

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