Page 63 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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This contrasts with the promise made by the Chief Minister during the election campaign that a re-elected Stanhope government would not take the budget into deficit in any year. Treasurer, why has the Stanhope government already broken the promise made by the Chief Minister not to take the budget into deficit?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. The election does seem a long time ago. In the context of comments that were made in the election campaign, if you read those comments in their entirety, the Chief Minister’s comment is completely correct, as were the claims by the opposition that they too would keep the budget in surplus. I hate to disappoint the opposition but, unless they saw things that no-one else in the world actually saw, they, based on their commitments in the election campaign when they said they would maintain a surplus, would deliver a deficit next year as well.

I hate to say it but the global financial crisis does not exclude the Liberal Party in the ACT when looking at its impact. In fact, when you look at what the Liberals did in the election campaign—not only did they say they were going to deliver bigger surpluses, they were going to deliver I think it was $35 million worth of savings this financial year—in the context of what we would be seeing now, at a time when government needs to invest in the community, what you would be seeing is a slash and burn approach from the Liberals, which we are actually not seeing.

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question that Mr Seselja asked related to the government’s approach to the deficit and does not require an exposition on the opposition’s approach to the deficit. The question directly relates to the deficit.

Mr Corbell: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: the question related to the alleged commitment to keep the budget in surplus. The minister is quite properly putting context around that by explaining the nature of that commitment made by the Chief Minister and, indeed, how the circumstances would apply equally to the opposition if they were in government.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Gallagher.

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The comments that were made by the Chief Minister were correct. The comments were: “Our spending, our commitments in the election campaign, would not drive the budget into deficit.” Those statements remain true. There is a full transcript of that interview from where those quotes were taken, rather selectively, which clearly shows that.

What has happened since then? I do not know whether the Liberals have been on holiday for six weeks—maybe the leader has been on holiday for six weeks—but let me tell you what has happened. There has been a three per cent cut in interest rates. Each one per cent is a $15 million hit on our bottom line. Our share investments have taken a hit, just like everybody else’s.

Mr Seselja: They did not take a hit then. Nothing happened before the election.

MS GALLAGHER: If you review the financial statements that were released before the election and the ones that we are looking at now, you will see a massive change.

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