Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2135 ..
opportunity cost that is implicit in the spending of such a large amount of money for relatively little return.
Interestingly, the Chief Minister, in proclaiming the supposed benefits of this policy, has sought to use a recent report from the Westpac bank to justify his policies. In doing this, of course he criticises the opposition for proposing a reduction in stamp duty on residential conveyancing. Yet this is exactly what the Reserve Bank said: the costs incurred are hurting affordability.
So it is not surprising that the Chief Minister did not and does not seek to criticise his Labor Party counterparts in other states and territories for their decisions to reduce the stamp duty impost. We know that this action has been taken by a number of other governments in their recent budgets. So it looks as if the Chief Minister of the ACT is the only one in step—in step with himself.
If the Chief Minister wants to try to criticise policy proposals from the Liberal Party he should be very careful that he is not guilty of creating the same or similar problems. And it may surprise the Chief Minister to learn that policies such as he lauds with respect to housing affordability will act to distort the market. Distortions can be caused in many ways, such as by providing concessions or exemptions, by providing special access to programs or by providing subsidies. The ultimate aim for any government that is really interested in working with the community is to remove as many distortions as possible and to enable the community, the private sector and other organisations to pursue productive activities as efficiently as possible. The Chief Minister’s housing affordability policy, apart from other elements, creates a massive subsidy from the public purse for a small number of people who are trying to enter the home owning market.
I wonder what advice the Chief Minister and Treasurer has received from his department’s advisers about the distortions that his policies are creating in the housing market for people in the ACT. If the Chief Minister and Treasurer was really concerned about the future of this territory, he would be working as hard as he could to establish the best possible environment in which the ACT economy can diversify and grow.
Unfortunately, all we see from this Chief Minister, from the Stanhope government, is a hotchpotch of policies that lack a sound strategy. Not only that but, when there is a prospect of substantial investment on the horizon such as the data centre and power station project, the Chief Minister makes a complete hash of handling these proposals. He is clearly out of his depth in dealing with project proposals such as these. A consequence for the ACT is the prospect of the Chief Minister’s incompetence resulting in the ACT losing these projects and his arrogance at not being able to say that he got it wrong to the people who are most directly affected. Projects which were integral to diversification and strength of the ACT economy are at risk because of one person and one person’s actions alone—that is, the Chief Minister.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (8.29): I do not think that running the net operating balance down over the next four years will affect the AAA credit rating, assuming that the financial projections of this budget actually materialise. There is one major risk to the territory’s financial position, however, that this government appears to have