Page 1509 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008

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In relation to this context of human rights and rights and responsibilities, certainly a right carries with it certain responsibilities. But I am not going to start scapegoating an entire cabal for the behaviour of a small minority of that cabal. I think it is regrettable that, in the context of standing up for human rights and the freedom of expression, we slip into scapegoating an entire community or an entire group that attended that particular event.

I am more than happy to provide you with those speeches. In relation to the cost, I did respond to a question from Mr Mulcahy yesterday, and I have nothing to add to that particular answer today.

Budget—inflation forecast

MR PRATT: My question is to the Treasurer. Yesterday, Treasurer, the Reserve Bank Governor, Mr Stevens, said that the consumer price index in Australia is rising by a little over four per cent during 2007-08 and that the underlying measures of inflation are continuing at a similar pace. He also said that in the short term, that is, into 2008-09, inflation is likely to remain relatively high.

Treasurer, in the ACT budget that you introduced yesterday, you forecast an increase in the consumer price index during 2008-09 of three per cent. Treasurer, why should the Canberra community believe your forecast for the consumer price index when it differs so substantially from that of the Governor of the Reserve Bank?

MR STANHOPE: I do not think it does disagree. It is interesting, and I do thank the member for raising the matter again and allowing me to actually draw the attention of the community to the fact that issues we face in relation to inflation are, of course, a direct result of the Howard-Costello mismanagement of the national economy—eight consecutive interest rate rises over the last two years, adding nearly $4,000 to a standard mortgage of a young Canberra family. Then, of course, we see the crocodile tears from the Leader of the Opposition in relation to his apparent concern around affordable housing.

Mr Pratt, the issues in relation to the consumer price index and inflation in Australia are, of course, directly attributable to the mismanagement by your party of the economy and the fact that we have had eight consecutive interest rate rises over the last two years. I think that whilst there is continuing concern, of course, nationally and certainly within the federal government in relation to inflation, it was, I think, pleasing to all of us that the Reserve Bank did not choose to raise interest rates again. Mr Pratt, in the context of the scare campaign that you are seeking to run today in relation to our budget for the future, or indeed the health of the economy here in the ACT as you continue today to continually talk it down, it is a strong economy. It is actually reckless of the Liberal Party in this place to continually talk down the strength of the economy and our future and our security.

The fact that the reserve bank has chosen not to increase interest rates again I think perhaps allows us just a small sigh of relief, with hopes that the urgent action the reserve bank has taken to try and ameliorate the damage which the Liberal Party has done to the national economy actually is a good and positive sign.

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