Page 501 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (12.11): There is certainly no question that the economy is an important issue. For governments it is one of the most important issues. It is certainly an issue that the Rudd Labor government has put front and centre of its actions and deliberations over its first three months in office. The reason it has done so, as everyone in this place knows, is that on assuming government Labor federally confronted immediately the challenge of decisively and swiftly tackling the inflation bogey unleashed by the profligacy and mismanagement of the Howard-Costello regime.

It is ironic that today we see the Leader of the Opposition in this place, the leader of a party that has already pledged itself to reducing ACT government revenues by millions of dollars through precisely the same kind of actions that delivered this Howard-Costello legacy, this new shiny leader of the local Liberals condemning the Rudd government for its determination to tackle inflationary pressures created by Mr Seselja’s Liberal colleagues at the federal level.

Mr Seselja: He is still cheering for them. Keep cheering, Jon.

MR STANHOPE: We will. We will get to the nub of this debate in a moment. The Liberal Party has ignored persistent warnings, 20 warnings from the Reserve Bank of Australia, over a long period of time. The Liberal Party federally, as the central plank of its campaign at the last election—and this is the nub of the issue, the cause of Mr Seselja’s immediate embarrassment and his disorderly behaviour now—pledged to keep interest rates low and then blithely set about creating the very conditions that ensured that that promise would never be kept.

It is in a way quite peculiar that Mr Seselja would choose to remind this chamber and the people of Canberra today of this abysmal legacy of the Liberal Party. Twenty-four hours ago the Reserve Bank announced another 0.25 percentage point rise in the cash interest rate, from seven per cent to 7.25 per cent. That rise takes the cash interest rate rise to a 12-year high. Did we hear Mr Seselja comment in his diatribe on the implications of a 7.25 per cent cash interest rate—a 12-year high and the twelfth interest rate rise in the last four years? Did Mr Seselja actually talk about the legacy for Canberra and Canberra families of that 12-year high in interest rates? Of course we did not.

Mr Seselja has the naivety to stand here today and condemn a government that seeks to ameliorate the dire and dreadful effect of those interest rate rises on young families and working Canberrans. We see no attempt at all today by Mr Seselja to comment on or come to grips or engage with the implications of those 12 rate rises on young Canberra families, people within Canberra in housing stress who face the prospect of eviction as a result of their inability to meet their mortgage payments. What sympathy or understanding did we see from Mr Seselja today for those Canberra families battling now to pay their mortgages?

Yes, efficiencies forced upon our great national institutions are to be lamented. Yes, job cuts to the commonwealth public sector will disproportionately affect a city such

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