Page 1902 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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environment policy, especially on water, that everyone else in Canberra will have to be satisfied with admiring a couple of plastic pot plants.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (4.47): I rise today to draw attention to a number of errors in this budget, but firstly, I would like to commend Mr Smyth for his delivery of the budget reply this afternoon.

Prior to the election of this government, the Labor Party made much of their supposed economic management credentials. I would like to say that if the budget delivered by the Treasurer on Tuesday reflects this government’s abilities, then Canberrans are going to be in significant trouble in the three coming budgets that Mr Quinlan delivers, if he indeed manages to hang on for that long.

I guess the first sign that this Labor government is going to be true to the form of many Labor governments, both state and federal, is the delivery of a deficit during boom times. I have remarked before in this place about the size of budget deficits left by the Hawke and Keating Labor governments, and I believe I may have erred at that time. I recall stating that the federal budget black hole when the Labor Party left office was $96 billion. I should correct the record at this time. It was, in fact, $10 billion. The $96 billion was the level of government debt that was inherited after the legacy of Hawke and Keating

One could also draw attention to the former Victorian government’s record during the early 1990s, when Joan Kirner and John Cain left Victoria with a legacy it took a Liberal government to correct. That seems to be the way it is with state governments. The Labor party spends all the cash, leaves the government coffers bare and waits for a Liberal government to come along and fix the mess. I imagine that is what might happen here if we continue to enjoy the financial management that Mr Quinlan and his colleagues deliver.

There were a number of reports in the media prior to the election about Mr Quinlan seeking to squeeze Canberra residents and Canberra businesses until they bled. Mr Quinlan then regarded this as a joke and tried to laugh it off, but I am sure that the 10 staff at ACTPLA and the 260 or so staff across the ACT public service do not think that it is a joke.

The last few years have shown that this government has held true to form, every year delivering a budget where they have said, “Look at that. We predicted we would only make X number of dollars from rates, from land tax, from change of use charges and from other revenue streams. We have made much more than we expected because times are good.” Since the inception of the LDA, the government has been receiving greater than expected outcomes for its land sales. Indeed, the budget papers show a 2004-05 return of a net $27 million more than budgeted for.

Yet now they are predicting a slowdown in the property market. I believe the words are “a softer property market”. They knew it was coming. Page 449 of the 2004-05 budget paper No 4, in relation to the Land Development Agency, refers to “more conservative parameters used by the LDA when compared to the record land prices experienced in 2003-04 at the height of the property market cycle”. They acknowledged that things were

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