Page 2563 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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there appeared to be a clear implication that funding for all these programs would be continued. That is a most disappointing decision by this government, which reflects a strange outcome to any evaluation of this program. It certainly repudiates the notion of the ACT being business friendly. I wonder if the small business commissioner made any representations on the demise of this program. Even if he did, it is quite clear that he was unsuccessful.

We continually hear from the minister for economic development that he knows everything about economics and about managing the affairs of the territory. On the issue of economic cycles, I think we have had a pathetic display of ignorance and arrogance by the minister. This is from a minister for business, as well as a Treasurer, who has presided over uncontrolled spending sprees by his Stanhope cabinet colleagues, who continues to budget for deficits in times of economic strength and booming revenue growth, who budgeted for a deficit of $8 million in the 2003-04 financial year and, as if that decision was not silly enough, then recorded a surplus of $29 million. The surplus would have been around $150 million if he had not transferred $117 million into superannuation provision accounts simply because he had the funds available at the time.

This is a Treasurer and minister who has massively underspent the capital works budget each year during the life of the Stanhope government—by $55 million in 2001-02; by $56 million in the 2002-03 financial year; by $61 million in the 2003-04 financial year; and by $79 million in the 2004-05 financial year. This is the Treasurer and minister who allocated $10 million from the Treasurer’s advance, in circumstances that were questioned by the Auditor-General, for urgent fire safety works in public housing, and then did not follow through to see how that decision was implemented. This is the Treasurer and minister who allocated a first home owners grant scheme grant to a six-year-old, and who has sought to introduce a number of new tax measures such as a bushfire tax, that was small and inefficient, and has failed with each proposal. I will take my second ten minutes, if I may.

This is the Treasurer and minister who also proposed the ill-fated parking space tax in 2003, and then we discovered that he had been so sloppy as not to have even researched the merits of this proposal, such that the proposal has now been abandoned and who has made the decision to fund from current revenue the substantial quanta of capital necessary to build major public assets such as the proposed prison; and who would not know an economic cycle if he fell off one. I would like to suggest that this minister has a lot more work to do, if he is to live up to his commitment in the economic white paper.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (4.20): To take the back end of Mr Smyth’s speech, he does tend to verbal people a little. He says that I am always saying I know everything about economics. No, I am not; but I will say I know a whole lot more than he does. That leaves a lot of room to move. Can I make that point quite clear. In the overall context the town is going well. I ran into a fellow at the last Vikings game down at Tuggeranong—an architect I used to play snooker with. “How’s it going mate?” “The town is going really well; everybody’s got full books.” “Great.” “We launched a cycle event today; and I have been talking to a lady who runs a large recruitment business. The town is going well.” That should be the overall judgment, I think.

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