Page 270 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 10 December 2008

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There has been a lot of commentary about whether money was put aside in the good times in order to ensure that we are in a strong fiscal position for periods of economic decline, as we are in now. It would be worth observing that the government’s capacity to fund a billion dollar infrastructure plan is off the basis of a cash surplus from previous years. We are one of the few governments in the country, in fact—indeed, in the world—who have a level of cash reserves in the order of three-quarters of a billion dollars, financed from the past surpluses. So in any discussion of putting money aside in the good times in order to assist the community through periods of economic decline, this government passes that test manifestly.

When compared with the financial record of those opposite, I do note that, in the major structural reforms that occurred in the 2006-07 budget, every—and I repeat “every”—single piece of significant structural reform in our budget was opposed by the Liberal opposition. For them to come into this place after the election and seek to suggest that the government was spending in a profligate manner and like a drunken sailor—I think they were the terms Mr Smyth used—after having only a matter of hours earlier tried to run the argument that the functional review and all of the decisions associated with that budget were wrong, those decisions that went to the heart of addressing the imbalance between revenue and expenditure in the territory and seeking to address the fundamental discord that had been there since self-government, fundamental structural reform that was opposed every step of the way by the Liberal Party, means their credibility on any of these economic matters is zero.

Brendan Smyth would be the only Liberal in Australia who wants Julie Bishop to stay as shadow treasurer. The reason for that is that that means there is a worse shadow treasurer in Australian politics. Brendan Smyth, who continues along what has been a sad and sorry tale in this place, ranting and raving, and walking both sides of the street on matters of fiscal policy, microeconomic reform, macroeconomic policy—and note all of the tricky questions that were coming in question time today—when it comes to the substance of actually supporting serious microeconomic reform, and just one example would be reform of the taxi industry, the Liberal Party squibbed it—squibbed it consistently. And they will continue to try to score cheap debating points in question time, throwing around, bandying around, terms like microeconomic reform. But when it actually comes to implementing a piece of microeconomic reform, where are the Liberal Party? They go missing.

So the real test of our three new members here who have stuck it out for this adjournment debate—and I congratulate them on that—is to see whether they can apply a bit of policy substance rather than just rhetoric.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Assembly adjourned at 6.30 pm.

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