Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 November 2007) . . Page.. 3355 ..
approach, as laid out by Mr Mulcahy today for the provision of infrastructure and services is: get the tax cuts, give people what they want, and then start to consider your priorities. In other words, at the heart of the question is a debate about the appropriation bill and a philosophical approach to the provision of services and government.
Mr Solly, to his credit, then asked Mr Mulcahy whether the Liberal Party put tax cuts ahead of the provision of, say, additional resources for sexual assault or for indigenous health to deal with issues around—
MR STANHOPE: Does the Liberal Party, as expressed by the alternative Treasurer, believe that the people of Canberra would prefer a tax cut to the employment of an additional 32 student welfare officers for our public schools? Does the Liberal Party, as expressed by the shadow Treasurer, believe that the people of Canberra would prefer tax cuts to the provision of a therapeutic drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for indigenous people? Does the Liberal Party, as expressed by the alternative Treasurer, believe that the people of Canberra would prefer a tax cut to additional cancer treatment equipment? Does the Liberal Party believe that the people of Canberra would prefer a tax cut to a new department of ophthalmology at the Canberra Hospital?
Mrs Dunne: It wasn’t a priority when you were cutting—
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Dunne!
MR STANHOPE: The response of the Liberal Party from its spokesperson in relation to budgeting and the delivery of resources and the provision of infrastructure and services is, “Yes, we believe emphatically that we must, as a first-order issue, reduce taxes and rates and charges within the ACT, and once we’ve done that, we’ll actually give some consideration as to whether there are any priorities that need funding and resourcing.”
MR STANHOPE: It is there; it is in black and white. That is in an environment where, as I have indicated and as is illustrated on the basis of information from commonwealth-funded agencies like the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the ACT is not a high-taxing jurisdiction. We are the wealthiest and most prosperous community in Australia. Average disposable income or salaries in the ACT are significantly higher than the rest of Australia, to the tune of $200 a pay. Each of us has, on average, in our pockets every week hundreds of dollars of disposable income more than our fellow Australians. We tax and charge on the average, the median. We are not a high-taxing jurisdiction. We provide services at a level higher than the rest of Australia.
If we want to meet the expectations of this community, the rightful expectations of this community to a world-class, first-class public education system, a world-class, first-class public health system, then we must invest in it. That is the priority. But we