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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 April 2008) . . Page.. 1239 ..

They cannot promise to wind back every significant efficiency gain that this government has made, be it in education or tourism or health or across the board. They cannot do that and cut taxes and layer on top of that their own array of new initiatives. It is simply not possible. At some point, if and when they ever release a policy, they will be confronted with the obvious question: where is the money coming from? This will be the real challenge.

We know the level of confidence that the Canberra business community has in the Liberal Party and in the shadow Treasurer, in particular. We know the failings during the 2004 campaign. We know the desire to put $100 million worth of capital money into recurrent expenditure. We saw that through the 2004 campaign. So we know the difficulties that the Liberal opposition have with fairly simple budgetary matters. There was a temporary reprieve for them when Mr Mulcahy was elected but, no, they were unable to cope with him putting forward some reasonably commonsense propositions around their wanton expenditure proposals—$200 million worth of tax removal or new spending initiatives that the former shadow Treasurer costed and was about, I understand, to present to the Liberal Party room. But they did not want to hear that news. They really did not want to hear that news, so what did they do? They kicked him out of the party.

That is unfortunate for Mr Mulcahy. I wish him well, as I say, in his ideological crusade around these issues, but I do not believe that this particular proposal is worthy of support. I do believe, however, that government should always seek to deliver services efficiently. We should always be looking at our taxation arrangements, and I am sure that the Chief Minister and Treasurer will have further things to say in relation to these matters on budget day.

We look forward to the delivery of this year’s budget and the continuation of sound economic management for the ACT and a consistent position that the Labor Party have put in bringing forward new initiatives that it must be within an affordable context in terms of what the territory budget can afford. It is only as a result of taking difficult decisions in 2006 that the territory is in the position that it is in now, and that is a quite sound financial footing. We look forward to an outstanding budget in this place on 6 May.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.22): It is wonderful that we have yet another example of the way that Mr Mulcahy and the Labor Party are whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears, but eventually the Labor Party will tire of Mr Mulcahy and will abandon him, as they always do. They always make friends with somebody who comes onto the crossbenches and then use him for all he is worth and throw him aside.

The reason that prompted me to speak on this occasion is to address some of the issues that Mr Barr raised in relation to the supposed savings that we see in the department of education. Let us go back to June 2006, the anniversary of D Day, when the minister for education announced a plan to close 39 schools and why the opposition opposed that proposal. The principal reason for the initial opposition to the proposal to close 39 schools, which became a final decision to close 23 schools, was that the savings were illusory.

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