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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 March 2010) . . Page.. 1430 ..

Let us look at the money that is being spent. In Mr Rudd’s latest plan about changing GST revenues for hospital plans, what people blithely ignore is that no-one is talking about removing the GST that was implemented. If anything is given to the ACT, it is that money that, although it has gone through the funnel of waste which is the ACT government, who have been able to mismanage much of that GST revenue, there is no doubt that the money that has been expended here has been a direct result of that investment.

Sadly, what we are seeing, though, is a reversal at the national level of the great economic management by the Liberal government federally to what we now have as a situation where we have gone from significant surpluses federally to significant deficits; where we have simply squandered $14 billion across projects in schools which, although no doubt they are very nice for the schools to receive, have done little to enhance the productivity of this nation. Indeed, in many cases they have been projects that people simply did not need in their schools or they have been delivered vastly over cost, because that is the Labor way of doing it: spend, spend, spend; spend lots of money. But, in terms of what is delivered, what the outcomes are, it is pitiful. We now find ourselves in a situation where federally we will be over $100 billion in debt and that is going to be paid off for generations. And, when the cuts do come, I can assure you they will be deep in this territory.

What we are seeing across jurisdictions is a failure to manage budgets. Despite the rivers of gold that have come into this territory, what we have seen here is a failure to manage budgets. What we are seeing is not a crossbench that are prepared to hold this government to account, to make sure that our money is spent judiciously, to make sure that it is spent wisely and particularly in these stringent economic circumstances; we see a crossbench that will spend more of their time defending their Labor colleagues, defending the government for its mismanagement and attacking the Liberals, rather than actually doing any hard policy work or any hard scrutiny of this government.

In fact, what we saw today was a leader of the Greens actually hide from the debate. This time she was not watching it on TV; she was simply hiding from the debate in the chamber. (Time expired.)

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.16), in reply: I thank members for their contribution to the debate today. Contrary to what Ms Hunter said, this is a very important debate. We are about to enter a period that the Canberra Business Council described as potentially the perfect economic storm. But Ms Hunter thinks that holding such a debate on this issue is less than constructive. Indeed, I am not sure she read the motion before she stood up, because the Greens often claim to represent the most vulnerable Canberrans.

The motion calls on the Treasurer to prioritise spending to protect vulnerable Canberrans, and to be attacked in this way by the leader of the Greens is simply amazing. As for her saying that there is little substance in the debate, you need to read the documents that ATCOSS have on their website about there being nothing left to give and the press release saying that one in 10 people have to be turned away. To say that there is no substance in this debate is absolutely extraordinary.

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