Page 2390 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 28 June 2005

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that logic to be followed? The answer—the simple answer—is that the budget decisions of the Stanhope government defy logic.

We heard much in the estimates about where we were going but what we did not hear was how the strategy that this government will put in place in the 2006-07 financial year will deliver a $1 million surplus. That sounds like pie in the sky stuff. There is no strategy. The money is just going to arrive. Suddenly we are going to make an extra $92 million and be ahead of the game. There is no indication whatsoever of financial control, an increase in revenue, a return of greater dividends, or anything that will lead to the situation where just magically over the course of the next financial year we will make up $92 million to put us $1 million back in the black.

As I said in my reply to the budget, the Stanhope government has failed in many ways with the decisions contained in this budget and ultimately it has failed the people of the ACT through being unable to make decisions that are appropriate for the territory at this time. My comments about the failures of this government can now be contrasted with the decisions of all other governments in Australia—seven of which are Labor governments—to respond to their circumstances. It is disappointing to record this failure.

As the opposition, we want to highlight this failing by the Stanhope government and contrast how the Liberal Party in government in the ACT would have approached the 2005-06 financial year and the future—by ensuring that we always have surplus budgets.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (5.23): My colleagues have covered most of it, but I did want to recap on a couple of points and make a couple of points that came out of this part of the estimates process. One was—and Mr Mulcahy touched on this before—the non-answers in relation to Williamsdale quarry. This government came to office, I believe, promising to remove the cloak of confidentiality, as they put it, from commercial dealings. That was Mr Stanhope’s promise: the cloak of confidentiality would be removed and there would be open and accountable government. Yet we get a few hard questions on the Williamsdale quarry and suddenly they are hiding behind commercial-in-confidence. This is of significant concern to the opposition. It should be of concern to members of the community that this government seems to becoming less and less accountable and less and less open in its dealings with the people of Canberra.

I commend Treasury officials for giving us a true picture of the job losses that are going to occur in the ACT public service. We asked a lot of questions in estimates of all ministers about how many job losses there would be, and we rarely got a straight answer. I think Mr Quinlan was contradicted by his officials when they confirmed for us that not only would there be 240 redundancies across the service but also there may well be additional job losses as a result of natural attrition. None of the other ministers was forthcoming and none of the other officials, I have got to say, was forthcoming. Whenever we asked the question they would say, “We don’t really know; we’re going to try to shift a few jobs” and “natural attrition” and all this. But Treasury officials confirmed it: 240 jobs to be lost from the ACT public service. Why? Because of the economic mismanagement of this government over the past few years. Those 240 people are paying with their jobs for the economic mismanagement of the Treasurer and this government. That is of significant concern.

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