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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 April 2008) . . Page.. 1208 ..

the clock ought to be stopped. In general, I will exercise my discretion about whether a member’s rights are being unduly interfered with when I make a decision in relation to it. I just ask you to note those comments.

Public service—cuts

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Treasurer. I refer to a statement that he made yesterday in relation to the Rudd razor gang when he said that the ACT government would look for the opportunities that could be derived from the budgetary reforms of the commonwealth. Treasurer, why do you consider that the Rudd razor gang slashing the jobs of hundreds, if not thousands, of Canberrans is an opportunity?

MR STANHOPE: I was referring to arrangements which the ACT government is making in concert with the chamber of commerce, the Business Council and the commonwealth Public Service Commissioner in relation to the placement both within the ACT government and within the ACT private sector of any commonwealth public servant who may be affected as a result of the efficiencies being driven through this budget. They are opportunities. In an environment where, in the view of Mr Chris Peters, the chief executive of the chamber of commerce, there are in excess of 1,000 positions within the private sector that have not been filled because of a want of people, personnel, to fill them, why would you not be prepared to accept that?

It would be derelict of us not to seek the opportunities that might present as a result of the upcoming commonwealth budget. It would be absolutely absurd to suggest that the ACT government would not look at the opportunities that present to the ACT government, acknowledging the number of vacancies that exist within the ACT services as a result of skill shortages and labour shortages. I can assure you that the Liberal Party’s view in relation to this is not a view that is shared by the chamber of commerce, the Business Council, the Property Council or any of the other representative business organisations within the ACT. The Liberal Party would have us turn our backs on the possibilities, the prospects or the opportunities that might present as a result of the commonwealth budget.

It is important that in any debate around the upcoming commonwealth budget we not lose sight of the underlying reason for or cause of the efficiencies that are being driven by the current commonwealth government through its budget. That is, of course, the incompetent Liberal Party management of the national economy in recent years.

This was very much a theme of yesterday’s question time. I might just quote again from today’s Canberra Times business section: “Demand feels heat”. This goes very much to the heart of Mr Stefaniak’s question and the many questions I received yesterday. The leading story on the business pages today, by Colin Brinsden, says:

It’s not just consumers who are feeling glum about higher interest rates. Big business is equally morose.

New data shows business confidence has slumped to its lowest level since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, and is a further sign that domestic demand is feeling the heat from interest rates at a 12-year high.

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