Page 82 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 14 February 2006

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Compared with all other jurisdictions, Canberrans have a lower reliance on business incomes and a much greater dependence on income from wages and salaries. Sixty-eight per cent of Canberra households rely on wages and salaries for their income, compared with an average of 57 per cent for the rest of Australia. That means that Canberra residents stand to benefit more than virtually any other Australian community from reductions in income tax.

But, of course, Mr Quinlan will not have a bar of it. The Canberra Times reports that he has called on the federal Treasurer to abandon plans to cut income tax. In fact, he wants the government to spend more money instead, which is typical. That was underlined today by the extraordinary midyear review figures that show what a bleak period we are heading into. No doubt those figures fully confirm the reason why he said it was time to head to the exit door.

Mr Quinlan cannot shake off the tired, old Labor Party mantra of higher taxes and more government spending. Even in this city, in which this government claims it has strong support, it is not willing to let the salaried population of Canberra benefit from improvements and reductions in income tax—a city in which fewer people benefit from business incomes. The outgoing Treasurer’s problem is that he has not been able to restrain the ACT government when it comes to big spending.

Sadly, financial mismanagement has become the hallmark of this government. It causes opposition members no joy to see this happen but it has to be brought to the attention of the Canberra people. The government’s financial statistics in its last budget papers show that ACT government spending will outstrip revenue by $356 million in 2005-06 and that the shortfall is estimated to be $249 million in 2008-09. In the latest statistics that came out today those figures have escalated considerably.

Under the revised figures, that 2008-09 figure has hurtled up to $332.6 million, and our unencumbered cash is down to less than $1 million. When all these things come home to roost, Mr Quinlan will be well out of the way and the legacy will be left with his Labor colleagues to try to defend. By 2008-09 the accumulated deficit, even on the old figures, was estimated to be of the order of $1,422 billion, or effectively $1.5 billion, as a consequence of the incapacity of this Treasurer and the territory government to make the hard decisions that are required in economic management.

Who will pay for that privilege? The people of Canberra will be faced with a decline in revenue growth through the government’s mismanagement. Those problems will be resolved by imposing higher tax rates, thus impacting on the people of Canberra. It is no wonder that the Treasurer wants the federal government to bail him out of trouble by spending more money in areas where the ACT government has failed so miserably. Canberra taxpayers will soon feel the pain of the ACT government’s lack of performance as they experience higher local taxes and charges to pay for Labor’s profligacy. At the same time they will not see improvements in waiting times at the hospital, safety in the streets and amenities and improvements in shopping centres and the like.

If some of the current federal budget surplus could be returned to Canberrans as income tax cuts it might ease the pain of high and rising taxes and charges imposed by this ACT Labor government. Mr Quinlan, as one of his final salvos, says he is against the money

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