Page 2851 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 24 June 2009

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cuts to spending or the slashing of government programs, we would take a measured, longer-term approach and return the budget to surplus in seven years.

The general response to this budget and the budget plan has been positive. While people in industry groups would like the budget to be in surplus, there is a general recognition across the board that the factors that have driven the budget into deficit are external and beyond the government’s control.

The government’s approach is also backed by respected economists and commentators. There is a general recognition that the government has adopted a longer-term approach due to the prevailing circumstances. There is a general recognition that, at times, services need to be preserved.

Standard & Poor’s offered its support for the ACT government’s budget, saying it was consistent with an AAA credit rating and that “the weaker operating position does not materially alter the robust profile of the ACT’s public finances as the strength of the government’s balance sheet provides flexibility to absorb cyclical deficits of this nature”.

The estimates own independent analysis provided a similar position to Standard & Poor’s. The government did not have to introduce urgent revenue measures because of its robust fiscal position. The strong net deposits held by the general government sector, even excluding assets held for superannuation, meant the government could ride out the immediate consequences of the recession until it set the 2009-10 budget.

Canberra’s peak building and construction industry organisation, the master builders, have welcomed the 2009-10 budget for having provided a capital works program capable of enhancing the city’s infrastructure at the same time as sustaining jobs through tough economic times. Similar messages of support have been received from groups such as the ACT Division of General Practice.

But let us turn now to the only people that are arguing that the budget should not pass. That is the opposition in this place. They were quick to come out and say that they thought the budget had no plan. Last week Mr Seselja was saying that the opposition’s position on the budget would ultimately be determined after they read the government‘s response to the estimates committee report. But, lo and behold, yesterday morning, just hours before the response was tabled, Mr Seselja had one of those Turnbull moments, or what will be recognised in years to come as a Turnbull moment. He came out with a premature declaration, telling the community that they were firm—

Mrs Dunne: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order.

MS GALLAGHER: A Turnbull moment. What is wrong with that?

Mrs Dunne: It is a besetting failure of members on the government side not to address the chair when they are speaking. Could I draw your attention to standing order 42 and ask the Deputy Chief Minister to comply? It would be handy if the Chief Minister complied as well.

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