Page 1611 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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for Tharwa bridge, although the start date of 2010 is rotten treatment of a community that is still reeling from a school closure.

We are pleased to see Labor follow us on teacher professional development, which I will expand on later. Areas such as mental health sometimes do not get much media attention, but they are terribly important for supporting some of those at the outer margins in society—those who most need help in overcoming disadvantage.

It is impossible to respond to this budget without putting it into the context of this government’s time in office. Since Labor came to office seven years ago, annual ACT budget revenues have grown from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion. This is an increase of almost 50 per cent in revenue, or around $1 billion in the most recent financial year.

Of course, Labor has forecast annual revenue growth every year and made plans to spend it, but the revenue streams have proven to be even bigger than Labor anticipated. Over the six years from 2002-03 to 2007-08, Labor budgeted for revenues of $15.9 billion, while the reports for those years show total receipts of $17.5 billion. So in the past six years, this government has enjoyed a cumulative windfall of $1.6 billion in revenue that it did not expect to receive, and was not part of the initial budget spending plans—the $1.6 billion revenue boom.

What have we got to show for this sea of windfall revenue? Twenty-three schools closed, taxes continuing to increase, health indicators going backwards, a water supply not secured, a bus system falling apart, and home ownership increasingly out of reach of young Canberrans.

Mr Stanhope has no competence on economic management. From 2001 to 2006, he spent like a drunken sailor. On a GFS basis, the net operating balance in 2003-04 was a massive minus $201 million; in 2004-05 it was minus $296 million; and in 2005-06 it was minus $134 million. Then, in 2006, Mr Stanhope turned around and confessed he had a spending problem. But, with an air of audacity, Mr Stanhope blamed a long line of previous governments of all political colours for putting his budgeting in a mess and for not taking the tough choices to save him from his own profligacy. He said in 2006:

… it is time the ACT had the maturity and the wisdom to stop living

beyond its means, as it has done, year after year, government after government, since self-government …

Many of us in this chamber, on both sides of the room, have been part of governments that have been complicit in this history. It is right that we feel somewhat discomfited.

… we have gone on in this manner for the past 17 years …

The temptation is not to look—to leave it for another day, another government.

Obviously, Mr Stanhope needs to be reminded of his record in this place. When he first came into parliament, he condemned efforts by the Carnell government to trim spending in order to bring the budget into balance. On 6 May 1999, Mr Stanhope

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