Page 1898 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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government’s equity investments and land values. It needs to be understood that the government financial statistics are in fact the basis on which the Grants Commission operates, the basis on which the IMF operates and, dare I say, the basis on which a number of the other state Labor governments operate. So, if you really want to know the true financial position of the ACT, they are the figures I would commend to members of the Assembly.

Finally, a request was raised yesterday in the Assembly for me to make available a copy of a presentation I delivered yesterday morning, and I seek leave to table that presentation.

Leave granted.

MR MULCAHY: I will quote from that presentation. The Chief Minister has a terrible problem understanding what I say, so I will say it very slowly for his benefit upstairs:

Canberra’s hospitals are costing $100 million more than they should.

That is, if Canberra’s hospitals did the same medical job (on a case-mix adjusted separation basis) that they are doing now but at the same cost as the average of other similar hospitals in Australia, they would do it for $100 million less.

That is an enormous waste by the Government.

The clear message, Mr Stanhope, is that you need to be more efficient in the way you manage your affairs. That does not translate into budget cuts and people being sacked and fired—and all those other extraordinary statements that in desperation you seem to be inclined to state in this chamber. They are the facts, they are the quotes, and I am quite happy to stand by them.

The time has concluded for my remarks. I have appreciated the opportunity to put in perspective the ACT budget. I seriously hope that my forecasts for the period ahead are not validated. I will have great pleasure in acknowledging it if my estimates are wrong, but in fact, tragically, I think that the high level of spending that has occurred under this government, and its incapacity to manage health, planning and a number of other areas, is likely to prove that these figures I predict are going to be fulfilled.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.33): Given the Treasurer’s truly impressive achievement of transforming a $52 million a year surplus into a deficit of $91.5 million, revealing, one might say, quintessentially Quinlan stolid indifference to public interest, we can hardly be surprised that the government has used the 2005-06 budget to reward its own constituency, to throw in a few symbolic gestures for the floating courtier and to squeeze everyone else until they bleed. As the Canberra Times pointed out:

At best, this is just muddling along ... there is no real plan … except for some incremental changes in the edges, and public relations to make rather more of the new crumbs than they deserve in the whole scheme of things.”

This is what the budget is at its best. Personally, as an MLA and, more importantly, as a citizen and a taxpayer in this territory, I do not think we should be that charitable. This is a budget and a government of public relations, spin, smoke and mirrors—whatever

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