Page 3423 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 17 August 2010

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MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. The most significant risk to the ACT is the ACT Treasurer and her laziness, her lack of drive, her inability—indeed, her surrender. She said on 8 April 2008:

… we have to acknowledge that economic diversity opportunities are limited …

Let us give Ted Quinlan credit. Mr Quinlan tried for years, but he could not get it through his own party, and that was the problem. I see we are joined by the minister for economic development. The son of the economic white paper is a pale imitation of what Mr Quinlan had at least the honesty to call a “statement of the bleeding obvious”. People on the crossbench and on the other side say, “What about small business?” Small businesses want some certainty and small businesses do not want things like government debt. They want low interest rates. They want the burdens off their backs of territory and federal governments. They want to be allowed to get on and go with the business.

When you have got $80 billion in debt, rising in 2010-11 to $209 billion of gross debt, you have got a problem. You may recall that when the Gillard government came to power there was no government debt. We had paid off the $96 billion we found in the Beazley black hole and we were in surplus. And now we are not in surplus; we are in debt. The excuse is “we had to stimulate the economy”. Most commentators would say there were four factors that saved Australia and they were the good economic position that we were in, in that we had money in the bank and we had surpluses—good financial arrangements—and that was to the credit of the Hawke-Keating government and to the Howard-Costello government. I have heard many people say on many occasions that it was due to both sides in that regard—good IR arrangements and the stimulus package.

Many commentators have said that the least important of those four was the stimulus package, simply because spending alone could not save us. It did not work in America and it did not work in the United Kingdom because their spending relative to ours was about the same. If stimulus was the answer, there would be no gloom and doom in global financial circles, because governments would have spent their way out of it. But that sort of economics does not work. You have to take the four factors into account.

The interesting thing when you go to the Rudd-Gillard government is that there were cuts to the public service numbers—enormous cuts to numbers. I read some of them out during question time. It is worth reading them out again, the proposed reduction in ASL for the departments and agencies in 2008-09, from the Australian Parliament House government library. There are huge numbers here: 1,137 in Treasury; 221 in immigration; 142 in innovation, industry and science; 85 in the CSIRO; 213 in education; 269 in families, housing and community services; and 179 in health and ageing. The reality is, unfortunately, that both sides will cut staff numbers.

The problem is that the Liberal Party always seems to be left with the burden of cleaning up the mess of Labor governments. In the ACT in 1995, when Kate Carnell came to power, it was a $344 million operating loss that the previous Labor

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