Page 549 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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subprime lending on institutions, not just in the United States but in other countries including Australia, simply defies logic. The problems that are besetting the French economy, the German economy, the US economy, which is still a powerhouse economy in global terms and which, when things go down, will drag others down with it, cannot be dismissed.

We have to recognise that Australia has actually done very well. We resisted the Asian economic meltdown. I remain convinced that in this case the Australian Treasury advice, which was adhered to, played a significant role in protecting Australian families and businesses from what would have been potentially a disastrous outcome.

One of the main points in the original motion goes to an important issue for many ACT residents: federal cuts to cultural institutions located in Canberra. It is not unreasonable to ask the government what it has done or what it plans to do in response to these cuts. Similarly, it is safe to assume that, if the coalition was still in power nationally, the Stanhope government would be much more vocal in leading the charge against these cuts.

Canberra, of course, has been historically a government town; it is the reason for the formation of the town; and even though the ACT has grown and developed significantly there is no denying the heavy influence of the Australian public service on the territory’s economic profile and population. According to the 2006-07 State of the service report by the Australian Public Service Commission, there were 143,525 ongoing employees in the APS as at June 2007 and there were another 11,957 non-ongoing employees, contractors and the like. Of these numbers, over one-third of the ongoing employees are located in Canberra. This equates to around 51,240 people employed in the public service in the ACT.

Whilst I recognise, as Mr Seselja’s motion does, that any cuts to the APS have a clear ability to impact on the ACT, I would be more hesitant in criticising reductions and efficiencies in government. It is slightly ironic that the Liberal Party, a party that has always been committed to responsible and minimal government, is leading the charge against cuts to the public sector.

I believe that governments at the territory and national levels should always be prepared to locate efficiencies and to look to reduce the size of government. I always thought this was a core principle of the Liberal Party, although things may of course have changed since my departure in December.

I have not heard details as to the amount of jobs, if any, which will be lost because of the federal government’s planned cuts to cultural institutions and other savings, so it is difficult to predict exactly any impact to Canberra residents or the local economy. But I do acknowledge that this impact is potentially significant.

I agree with the Chief Minister’s comments and his media statement today that it is important to be proactive and to plan ahead for any future cuts, and any cuts to the ACT will have an impact on employment in the ACT. But I am far from convinced that, with unemployment at a record low of just 2.3 per cent, the territory is on the

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