Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 December 2008) . . Page.. 259 ..
unforeseeable and they are beyond any individual government’s control. If financial and economic circumstances are demonstrably beyond the control of the government of the United States of America, of the British government and of the Australian government, it is a bit rich to suggest that the ACT government can tame financial markets and any flow-on effect to the real economy.
I turn to what I think was the last part of Mr Smyth’s motion. We have this mantra, I notice, in the use of that term “Stanhope-Gallagher government” in all your press releases and stuff. It is actually good; it supports our election campaign theme. So we are very happy for you to keep using that Stanhope-Gallagher government expression. The motion states that we have squandered $1.9 billion in additional revenue.
In the first instance it is useful to test the credibility of the figure and, therefore, the credibility of that part of the motion.
Mr Seselja: Are you flattered by the Stanhope-Gallagher government, then?
MS GALLAGHER: Well, I don’t respond to interjections but I think if you look at our campaign strategy you will see that we are not unhappy with your use of the Stanhope-Gallagher government at all.
By “additional revenue” the opposition’s Treasury spokesperson presumably means that revenue received has been higher than forecast. Presumably, this is based on an exercise of comparing the original forecast with the final outcomes in the previous year. That is how you get close to this figure. I am advised that this figure would include around $450 million in superannuation investment returns, it would include around $100 million in asset revaluations and it would include around $45 million in cross-border receipts. And Mr Smyth appears to suggest that these are all windfalls or free money.
The territory received higher than forecast payments because we delivered higher than forecast services to cross-border residents. The investment returns go to superannuation accounts. The asset revaluations relate to accounting adjustments. These are non-cash and cannot be spent unless, of course, Mr Smyth is suggesting we should sell those assets.
The opposition’s Treasury spokesman may have done the maths correctly but it is meaningless. It is important to make this point because to suggest that all of this was available for services is simply wrong. Nevertheless, our record on improving essential services for Canberrans is unparalleled. It was this government that dealt with the chronic neglect of essential services to meet those most vulnerable in our community.
Again, we can list them: mental health, child protection, disability services, health funding. All of these are labelled reckless spending by the opposition. I do not think that the community thinks it is reckless spending. According to the opposition, you would think that we had spent all of our surpluses. Well, we didn’t. We did the responsible thing and we provided for a large capital investment program, which I think is the envy of other jurisdictions at this point in time. It kicked off in this year’s budget and it will run across the next four years. This was the responsible thing to do.