Page 3950 - Week 10 - Thursday, 28 August 2008

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short, caught napping. He said, “No, the Liberals are wrong. We just don’t need a new dam.” And what are we building?

Mrs Dunne: A new dam.

MR SMYTH: A new dam. We welcome the new dam. We know that this dam is required. We had a preference for Mount Tennent. We think that building a dam with a bigger capacity on a different catchment is far more sensible. But we are getting a new dam despite the contradictions and the backflips of the Chief Minister, who said that we did not need it.

The delivery of capital works is dependent on a firm economy. You only have to look at the press release on Sensis this morning to understand what is happening to the ACT economy—this economic miracle that Jon Stanhope apparently has created all on his own. It commences:

ACT businesses are shedding staff and slashing business costs to cope with weak consumer demand, according to the August Sensis® Business Index released today.

“Weak demand in the ACT is impacting on business confidence …

Earlier the release states:

… six in 10 ACT small businesses had been affected by the current economic environment.

At the height of an economic boom and with $1.6 billion in extra revenue, Jon Stanhope has now created a situation where six in 10 ACT small businesses have been affected by the current ACT economic environment. That is appalling. I am reminded of the fabulous words of Darryl Kerrigan, played by Michael Caton in the wonderful Australian film The Castle. Darryl’s abiding claim to fame and his response to almost anything was, “You’re dreaming.” You are dreaming, Chief Minister, and it is time that you woke up from your make-believe world.

The Chief Minister talked again today about deficits that were supposedly recorded under the former Liberal government. He suggested that these deficits total something like $800 million. He contrasts those with his supposed budget surpluses. He attributes his surpluses to his efforts; everything else is somebody else’s fault. I think he is deluded.

The Chief Minister admitted that when the Liberals came to power in 1995, they inherited a Labor government-generated $344 million black hole to fill in the ACT budget—a legacy of the financial incompetence of the Labor Chief Minister and her colleagues in the early 1990s. What he failed to say was that while Liberal governments had budgeted for an aggregate deficit of $636 million for the period of five years, the outcome is actually only an aggregate deficit of $341 million. As we strove to make savings and build up the economy, we reduced our deficits by almost 50 per cent. We were responsible.

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