Page 905 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 24 February 2009

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We know that this government continue to spend millions of dollars more than they should through their agencies and departments on government advertising. They continue to waste our money, particularly through spending within the Land Development Agency. We had a whole range of examples, and each one of those spending measures and each one of those examples of wasteful spending—whether it is the $5 million on a busway that is not going to happen or whether it is the $200,000 a month which we were spending and I think still are on a relatively empty building at Fairbairn—is a significant amount of taxpayers’ money.

What Jon Stanhope and Katy Gallagher have said is that every bit of that spending is good spending and that we should hold on to every bit of that spending. Instead of making those savings and being able to deliver tax relief and stimulus and targeted spending that actually makes a difference, they believe that fundamentally any spending is good spending. This is where the Treasurer really has struggled to articulate a message. I think her message is this: “There are some tough times coming. It’s not our fault, and now any spending is good spending”. When we have our $200 million deficit or $300 million deficit, or whatever we get to, she will blame external factors. She will take no responsibility for the fact that a government actually has to make hard decisions. She will take no account of the fact that the budget now is actually far bigger than it was a few years ago, and that even with a slowdown in revenue it will still be far bigger than it was a few years ago.

The money has been there, but it has not been targeted. This is the new Treasurer’s narrative—that is, any spending by government is good spending. It does not matter if it is not targeted; it does not matter if it is wasteful; it does not matter if it is for things that we do not need or if it is for advertising that is really about getting the Labor Party re-elected. She believes no account should be taken of that and that tax relief should not be given to young families and first home buyers because the government wants to spend millions of dollars on a busway that is not going to be built. They want to spend $5 million on FireLink, which has not been delivered. They want to spend millions of dollars on extra government advertising, because they want to grow like topsy certain areas within the Chief Minister’s Department instead of actually showing some restraint.

They are the priorities of this government; that is their legacy. When we see the budget deficits in future years, the people of the ACT will be smart enough to know that, although revenue is slowing down, this is a government that cannot handle it. They could not handle the good times; they did not make the savings; they did not make the structural reforms. They have done nothing of substance to shield the ACT from the downturn; they are simply going to ride the wave. In the bad times we can expect big deficits and hard times, increased taxes and reduced public services because they cannot make the fundamental hard decisions that need to be made. They refuse to even match the most basic savings measures. Madam Assistant Speaker, I thank you very much.

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Burch): The time for the discussion has now expired.

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