Page 619 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

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Your statement was in response to a question about the raft of new and increased taxes that you had introduced. The 2007-08 budget midyear review shows another dramatic revision to the budget position—the fifth consecutive quarter that the forecast position has improved. Treasurer, if there is a glaring gap between expenditure and revenue it is in favour of the amount of revenue that is received. Have you taken measures to address the gap and provide tax relief to bring the two into balance?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mr Mulcahy for the question. I still cannot believe, Mr Mulcahy—with great respect and deference—how it is that the Liberal Party got rid of its only intelligent member! But don’t get carried away. It continues to stun and amaze me that the lemmings within the Liberal Party—in one fell swoop—banished its most competent member and demoted its most popular member. You must still be shaking your head Bill.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Stanhope, come back to the subject matter of the question.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Order! Come back to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: I will, and I am pleased to receive the question. The Australian Bureau of Statistics—in relation to a whole raft of economic information it has released in recent times—has also, along with the Commonwealth Grants Commission, released the latest information in relation to relativities, and the issues around expenditure effort and revenue effort.

I made a claim in terms of the government’s determination to close the gap. The level of average expenditure was significantly above the national average. It had to be addressed. At the time of the functional review—the budget you refer to—the average level of expenditure across the board was about 35 per cent above the national average, whilst our revenue effort was essentially at the national average.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Commonwealth Grants Commission have confirmed, over the last couple of weeks, that the level of expenditure above the national average in the last two years has declined from 135—or 35 per cent—to 122. This is a very significant achievement in the space of two years as a result of the measures we took.

It was a combination—I am sure you would acknowledge this Mr Mulcahy—of significant efficiencies. As I have said before—but I do not think it has yet been once reported—there are embedded in our budget just under $400 million worth of efficiencies and savings. Those $400 million of efficiencies and savings embedded in the ACT budget, along with revenue measures and adjustments we made, have led to the very healthy balance sheet and budget situation we currently have.

There is inconsistency in the Liberal Party position. They grasp this one Canberra Times Peter Martin Access Economics measure—“Oh, we are all rooned”. Don’t then

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