Page 3425 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 17 August 2010

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MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Land and Property Services, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (4.45): I do thank Ms Hunter for the opportunity to discuss this very important motion and it is timely that we discuss the impact of federal public service cuts on the ACT economy in light of the declared plans of the Liberal Party in the coming federal election, an election which is to be held in just five days.

If the Liberal Party are successful in that election in five days time, the leader of the Liberal Party, Mr Tony Abbott, has declared, unequivocally, unambiguously, absolutely, that he will reduce commonwealth public service outlays—in other words, expenditure—by $24 billion. He has acknowledged, as was mentioned earlier today—and one wonders how conservative he has been in his acknowledgement—that that would involve a reduction of 12,000 staff over the next two years. He then went on to claim, I think, that all 12,000 reductions in staff in the commonwealth public service would be from natural attrition. By jeez, that is some natural attrition—not replacing 12,000 jobs in a period of two years in the commonwealth public service. That is the stated position. That is the policy. That is a position that Tony Abbott is putting to the people of Australia in relation to his party’s intentions if the Liberal Party win the election on Saturday.

So the people of Canberra do need to understand the implications of a Liberal Party victory. In that context I, and I would hope every person in this place, would reflect on just how significant this election is for us Canberrans. A promise by the Liberal Party to cut $24 billion, a promise by the Liberal Party to remove 12,000 jobs; we know the implications of that. We know the history. We saw the results of a very similar promise made by John Howard in 1996 which was acted on. The implications for this town were indisputable, and it will be the same again. The ACT went into a recession as a result of the election of the Howard government. Our population dropped; we lost population—remarkable. Housing prices slumped. Unemployment was dramatically affected. Those who were affected by it left town. Small business took an absolute belting across the territory.

I would hope that most particularly those members of this place from Tuggeranong and representing Tuggeranong would know, because I think it was most starkly felt and realised in Tuggeranong, the local implications or effects of the cuts that were wreaked on the public service here in the ACT as a result of the fulfilment of that commitment that the Liberal Party made on that last occasion that they came to government. The implications for business, for small business and for housing in Tuggeranong were enormous. There was the impact on profits and profitability. There was the impact on jobs—all of those Canberrans that were left without work and the impact of that on families. There was a need to change cities as a result of the decision and actions of the Liberal Party.

It is sad that those sorts of promises from the Liberal Party and the decisions that flow have been made really for crass sort of national extra ACT political consumption: “It’s all right to bash Canberra.” In fact, the Liberal Party adopt this attitude that it is

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