Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 April 2008) . . Page.. 1139 ..
MR STANHOPE: Not just your insight, but your integrity. Unlike Mr Smyth, you would not associate yourself with a party or a group that was formed to campaign against the Liberal Party. (Time expired.)
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you very much, Chief Minister. Wonderful debate!
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (5.12): I enjoyed those words from the Chief Minister; he is always enlightening. I do welcome the opportunity to speak on this MPI. I do note, of course, it is rather similar to a motion that we debated in the March sittings but I am more than happy to participate in another discussion about the impact of federal cuts on the ACT.
As I said in March, Canberra historically is a public service town and, although the city’s base has diversified somewhat, the commonwealth government remains easily the biggest employer in the ACT. Indeed I remember, when I lived in Wanniassa and Mr Seselja was riding his bike in 1978 and it was the outer suburb of the valley, when my wife and I were establishing our first home, it was something of a wasteland down there, thanks to the cutbacks from the Fraser razor gang that decimated the city. It had quite an adverse impact on both people’s—
Mr Seselja: They still have got a two-lane freeway, though, do they not?
MR MULCAHY: That is right. There was the federal idea of cutting back and what other states consider as appropriate to cut back. But the fact of the matter is that Canberra did go through a pretty bad time there. Probably prices took a fair hammering, aided and abetted later by Rosemary Follett’s brilliant idea to flood the market with land, when many people then took a bath as well in the early 1990s.
But the fact is that we are sensitive to changes in the commonwealth. When the federal government, Mr Rudd, Mr Tanner and others, declared that they are going to slash public sector expenditure, then there is obviously heightened concern in this territory.
If you look in terms of numbers, according to the 2006-07 State of the service report by the Australian Public Service Commission, there were 143,525 ongoing employees in the public service as of June 2007. There were another 11,957 non-ongoing employees, as they call them—contractors and the like. Of these numbers, over one-third of ongoing employees are in fact located here in Canberra. This equates to about 51,240 people employed in the public service in the ACT. Clearly, when roughly a sixth of your total population and a higher proportion of the working population are employed by the federal government, any changes or cuts will have a considerable impact on jobs in Canberra.
Mr Smyth’s MPI is quite correct, although not particularly insightful. Cuts to the Australian public service will have an impact on the Canberra community. It is, of course, worth noting, however, that the ABS March employment figures show that the unemployment rate in the ACT is down to an extraordinary 2.4 per cent. I do not care