Page 2090 - Week 06 - Thursday, 7 May 2009
territory’s history. According to Treasury, the economy will be back to its boom time best. Yet Katy Gallagher is still planning a deficit of over $150 million in that year.
When the GFC is but a bad memory and the commonwealth revenues that have cushioned the next two years budgets are spent, you would think the budget could stand on its own two feet. It has to if we are ever to recover. Instead, it crawls along, digging our community deeper and deeper into debts and deficits. In that year, revenues are projected to sit around $3.8 billion, yet this government is intending to spend around $4 billion, a deficit of $150 million, even in the best of times. And this is after all of the savings have been found—if the government can ever find them—after the efficiency dividends are found and implemented, after the stimulus money has come and no doubt gone.
Still, under this budget, we will be paying for basic services on the credit card. This is not a plan for recovery; it is a blueprint for disaster. It is not a response to the GFC; it is setting up your very own crisis for the future. It is not just contemplating deeper debt; it makes it a certainty. It is quite simply spending more than you earn, even when you are earning more than ever before. This point alone tells how empty this budget is of a genuine plan to overcome this crisis and get the budget back in the black.
One of the hallmarks of this government has been their ability to make promises, only to be followed by the sickening emptiness of delivery. There is perhaps no politician in the history of the ACT with a greater ability in verbal gymnastics than the current Chief Minister—and his apprentices are coming along well in this regard too. They are more than happy to have fake openings, false announcements and fractional delivery. They will conduct secret deals, tell half-truths and provide selective statements. The result: a short-term reduction in embarrassment and a long-term cost to the community.
We have the GDE, the airport roads, the sham prison opening. But there is no better example of blatant bad delivery than the government’s land rent scheme, the centrepiece of its housing affordability policy. Land rent is, without doubt, one of the biggest electoral frauds perpetrated in this territory’s history, and for this government that is saying something—worse than the sham prison opening, more embarrassing than a class sizes backflip, more damning than the school closures.
We have seen, through documents gained under freedom of information, that Jon Stanhope blatantly, callously and completely misled the community about the support the scheme was receiving, despite the mounting pile of evidence from banks, financial institutions, mortgage brokers and his own department. That advice amounted to naught in the minds of this government; it was far more crucial that they avoid political embarrassment, that they muddy the water in the face of a clean, comprehensive scheme to address the problems. The financial ruin and broken dreams were not important to this government; getting back into office was.
In recent days the government has sought to blame even this on the GFC, despite documents tracking back as far as 2004 showing the concerns lenders had about the fundamental viability of the scheme. It is bad policy, not the GFC, that has seen this