Page 555 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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happens in this little place, but at the end of the day, if you are loud enough and strong enough in what you say, even the most intransigent federal government will do something. I can recall a number of areas in which we got some results, in those difficult days in 1995, 1996 and 1997, from the Howard government.

The Howard government inherited a much worse situation than what Howard gave to Rudd. They had the Beazley black hole—they had some huge problems with the economy and it took a long time to sort that out. Canberra had suffered under Hawke and Keating. They suffered cuts of about 9,000 or 10,000 public servants, and we got a cut of another 9,000 or 10,000 under Howard. They screamed in Newcastle when 2 ½ thousand were cut. In Canberra, though, we managed to overcome it and we were probably a lot stronger for it, funnily enough, at the end of the day. But the times then were even harder than they are now, and I am amazed at just how meek the Chief Minister is. Mr Barr—Foghorn Leghorn over there, according to you, Mr Deputy Speaker—is actually trying to make a plus out of it, by saying that maybe if you do not send travelling shows—

Mr Barr: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: I think members are meant to refer to other members by their titles.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is a correct point. Only I can use that particular term in any case, Mr Barr. Mr Stefaniak, will you refer to Mr Barr either by his title or by his name.

MR STEFANIAK: I certainly will, Mr Deputy Speaker. With respect to the economy, we have suffered far worse than what is occurring now. The economy is fundamentally in very good shape. I find it quite amazing for Mr Stanhope to be so meek about it. It is ridiculous that there are such significant cuts to major Canberra institutions like the National Capital Authority, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia—$9 million worth of cuts over a three-year period to some fairly small institutions. They will have great trouble surviving those cuts and they will actually have to cut into programs. If you talk about saving $9 million—and I think the figure of $64 million is bandied about as representing the total savings so far from the ACT—that is a drop in the bucket when you are looking at savings Australia-wide. Again, it is not good value for your buck.

I thought Mr Barr was being disingenuous when he said, “If they stop all the travelling shows, more people will come to Canberra.” That is wrong, Mr Barr; it actually does not work like that. We want to promote this place. What the federal Labor government is doing represents appalling value for money. A cut of $9 million over three years for three major but fairly small national institutions will have a huge impact here. You might save $9 million but how much will we lose as a community with tourists not coming to Canberra, with the flow-on effect to business? Much more than $9 million over three years. The Chief Minister was right—he often is not—in saying:

Decisions that the Federal Government might make, particularly if there’s a change of Government, could have significant impacts on employment levels or construction activity and our budget would suffer immediately.

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