Page 3951 - Week 10 - Thursday, 28 August 2008

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We all remember the time of the Howard government cuts. The Carnell government stood up to Howard, unlike Jon Stanhope and Andrew Barr, who have refused to stand up to Kevin Rudd on anything. We saw the disgraceful backflip over the gay and lesbian legislation. Yes, they were willing to stick it to a Howard Liberal government, but they faltered, they fell over, they collapsed and they retreated to cowards castle when the Rudd government said no. It is a shame and it shows the true depth of their commitment to so many things. They will attack a Liberal government, but they will not stand up for the ACT if it means attacking federal Labor. I think it is to their shame and I think it is known throughout the community.

Any correct reading of the financial performance of the former Liberal government shows that, in fact, we left the ACT in a sound financial position. That firm financial position is the reason why services are allowed to be delivered in the ACT. Compare that with the financial record of the Stanhope government over the last seven years. It is one of many questionable decisions, including many additional tax imposts that have either been tried and failed or put in place and forgotten because they simply did not work.

The sad feature of the attempts by the Chief Minister to take credit for the position in which the ACT now finds itself is that he has no capacity to give credit where credit is due. He has no capacity to acknowledge the good work of others. His hypocrisy and his arrogance know no bounds as he attempts to rewrite history. The Chief Minister attempts to deride the quantum of capital works under the former Liberal government without at any stage acknowledging the budgetary context in which the capital works budgets were put together in the late 1990s or, indeed, the size of the budget.

Our last budget was $2 billion. The budget this year is almost $3.4 billion. Of course the capital works spend is going to be bigger. I am sure the Chief Minister would not want to recognise this, but there has been a dramatic increase in the overall cost of capital works over the last couple of years of the order of 50 per cent. That is right. The cost of construction has risen by about 50 per cent over the last seven years. Nobody is fooled by the rantings and ravings of the Chief Minister and his myopic view of his role in the performance of the ACT economy in recent years.

Moreover, the Chief Minister continues to misrepresent the performance of the ACT budget. The Chief Minister said recently, for example, when releasing the latest quarterly financial report that the surplus of $289 million represented an improvement of $97 million on the estimated outcome for 2007-08. That, of course, is not correct, and the Treasurer should know that. When the Treasurer brought down the 2007-08 budget he forecast a surplus of $103 million. There it is, in black and white, on page 3, on page 9 and page 15 of budget paper No 3. The change in the outcome for 2007-08 therefore is the difference between $289 million and $103 million, and that is $186 million. Perhaps there could be a little more honesty in the representation of these figures. To say that it was an improvement of $97 million is absolutely incorrect. The Chief Minister should correct that number.

Increased services can only be delivered through good economic management. The ACT is getting neither from the current Labor government. (Time expired.)

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