Page 1649 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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Stanhope government. We have a government and a budget that repudiate the activity of the last two years. It repudiates the basis of the savage and unwarranted cuts that were made in the budget in 2006. It highlights the lack of any strategy for capital works projects prior to this budget and it confirms the inability of the Stanhope government to implement a coherent budget strategy across its period in office.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (5.15): Well, what a difference a year makes. I will start off with health because this year we are looking at health spending of $300 million. Even to the politically innocent this must look suspiciously like catch-up, or is it, rather, that the electorate has realised just how mean spirited the Stanhope is? The Stanhope government closed 23 schools for no good reason. The Stanhope government said this week that it was not about saving money, although the rationale in the 2006-07 budget was that we “need to live within our means”. The unnecessary sacrifice of these schools and their communities is even more blatant given the remark in the budget speech that “over the coming years there will be one new school opening every year”. On that basis, it will take 23 years to undo the damage done by the Stanhope government.

The Stanhope government have hiked taxes across the board and linked them to the WPI, rather than the CPI. Well, it is a very crafty move because, of course, we all know that the WPI is more than one per cent higher. The Stanhope government have closed a well-loved and well-used library at Griffith—once again for entirely trumped-up reasons and a saving of only $500,000 a year.

You have allowed the city to become drab and poorly maintained. You have taken away services like the shopfront in Civic. You have razed and destroyed, even though your coffers are bulging and the ACT has enjoyed surplus after surplus and another surplus this year of $89 million—or is it? I was asked this week about the inclusion of long-term gains on superannuation. Of course, we do not really know. Mr Smyth just mentioned hollow logs. All we can do is see and drill down on these matters as we come into estimates.

The Stanhope government have created more pain and hardship for Canberrans, even though the ACT has had boom time revenues—billion dollar boom time revenues, no less, from high property prices over the past 10 years and a buoyant economy. It has consistently delivered bumper GST revenues, up to around $800 million this year. The people of Canberra are not impressed by the one-lane GDE. They are not impressed by the bronze statue to Al Grassby. In fact, one constituent said to me this week that when the Liberals get into power, could they please knock down the statue and smelt it down. That is the attitude out in the community. “A snip at around $70,000?” you would ask yourself, but it is nevertheless symbolic of the inability of this Stanhope Labor government to focus on the bread and butter issues that affect so-called working families, which they love to parade and talk about ad nauseam. No, this government likes to grandstand about issues like human rights and gay rights. As to the rights of ordinary citizens to obtain timely access to community services, this is another matter apparently.

Canberrans, including rusted-on Labor supporters, are unimpressed by your elitist preoccupations; for example, allocating $1 million for one art work at the entrance to

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