Page 1241 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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What we have seen is hard times for people on fixed incomes, mainly old people. We have seen hard times for families with children at school, who have seen considerable disruption, where almost no school in the ACT was left untouched by the dead hand of the Stanhope government.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (5.26), in reply: I am pleased to see the Liberal Party supporting this bill. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased to hear the Greens’ Dr Foskey also support this bill, possibly for different reasons or with a different objective in mind. But the end point is that I was comforted by speeches that indicated that they would vote in favour of this.

I was not exactly shocked by the declaration by the Chief Minister and Treasurer and his colleague Mr Barr that the government would not be backing this legislation. I think that was made fairly clear in the media a couple of weeks ago when I first introduced this measure.

There is, of course, a fundamental mathematical flaw in the line of argument presented by the Chief Minister. Of course what he is saying probably would have had some validity a couple of years ago when they continued to produce deficits in the budget under the GFS system. It meant, therefore, that, if you were to reduce your income stream, then obviously something had to go in its place. Things have all changed and that has been conveniently ignored.

If you simply look at what we know now that we did not in November, when this was last before the Assembly, the territory’s forecast net operating balance has increased to $116.1 million. The forecast amount of revenue has increased by $167.2 million.

I am pleased to be able to assure Mr Stanhope that the money is in fact there and that it is not too late to embrace this repeal bill. He will not have to throw people out of hospital beds, sack police, shut down more schools or let the roads go into further state of rack and ruin. In fact, that can be funded. Even if you look at the outyears, which I have done, we have the capacity to comfortably manage this tax initiative that I have brought forward.

The issue is not that we can do this or that; the issue is: how much of the war chest do you want to give back to the people of Canberra? And it would seem at this stage it is very little. It will be interesting to look back on this afternoon’s discussion in a few weeks time, when the budget comes in, and see how serious the territory government is about denying any form of tax relief to the people of Canberra or whether they will say, “We cannot do the utilities one, we better not do the fire and emergency services levy, we will dream up something else.”

I was in Gungahlin Marketplace on Monday afternoon and a colleague of one of your ministers, Mr Stanhope, came up and said, “I am very pleased with those bills you are bringing in. I have been told by a minister that they are definitely going to be introducing some tax reforms in the budget in a few weeks.” Whether that information or leak is valid I do not know, but I took some comfort in the fact that last time the windfall was disclosed in the December accounts you in fact indicated that you were

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