Page 135 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2006

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MR STANHOPE: I was leading up to answering that question but I allowed myself to be distracted and I digressed a little from the path. But I was setting the picture. Four years ago this government inherited a very crook budget, a budget that really represented a fraud. Over the past four years we, as a government, increased our investment in the delivery of services of fundamental importance to the people of this community—in health, education, aged care services and in government services across the board.

This government has dramatically increased services in relation to the safety and protection of this community—an additional $134 million in emergency services and tens of millions of additional dollars in relation to disability services. Just yesterday I saw the increase in the number of childcare protection workers that this government has employed over the last year, from 46 to 115 in the space of 18 months. Opposition members should dwell on that. What did we inherit from the former government in relation to child protection, nothing more fundamental than the welfare and safety of our children?

We increased the number of child protection workers within the ACT from 46 to 115. That represents something of the investment that this government has made in this community. We did that while delivering accumulated surpluses of $230 million. This is a good government, a government that recognises the priorities of this community and has the courage to invest in those priorities while returning a surplus budget. We are now faced essentially with things outside our control, such as an actuary who adjusts his predictions in relation to our superannuation liability by $200 million over the cycle. That is what he has done.

Twelve months ago we relied on his actuarial advice. He has now adjusted it to the tune of $200 million over four years, which comes as something of a shock to a government that had budgeted for a certain bottom line. Within six months of that budget we were advised by our actuary that he had adjusted his numbers up by $200 million or thereabouts over the space of four years. We all know that there are issues outside our control, issues relating to land sales, revenue from stamp duty, conveyancing and everything that is associated with the sale of land upon which we and every ACT government has relied. That was reflected in the position the Treasurer put relating to the GFS and why land and land sales have to be taken into account in the ACT if we want a proper or true picture of the underlying position. We will respond; we will not sit passively.

Mr Mulcahy: We are all waiting.

MR STANHOPE: The member can wait. He will be waiting for a long time; we have three more budgets in this cycle. We will respond. In the first instance, as of November last year, I appointed a significant functional and strategic review—which is what it is—to look at the way in which we do business, the structure of our government and the way in which we can best meet our priorities. That review will inform the decisions we take in the budget that we have begun to put together and through which we will address and attack the deficits that the Mid year review indicates we face.

Mr Mulcahy: It is fascinating.

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