Page 3643 - Week 08 - Thursday, 19 August 2010

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he is going to pay for them, all about cuts essentially to Canberra. That is how they express it—“Oh, we’ll cut $25 billion from commonwealth government expenditures. We’ll admit that this will impact to the tune of 12,000 jobs within the public sector.” External analysis and modelling reveals that if you cut 12,000 jobs from the public sector, there is a knock-on impact of a further 17,000 jobs in the private sector. So we are talking here about 29,000 jobs before we get to the extra billion dollars that was announced yesterday. We are talking about 30,000 jobs.

So, it is a very reasonable question that Mr Hargreaves asks: what are the implications for this territory in particular? We know of our vulnerability. We know of our particular exposure here in the ACT to major seismic shifts in commonwealth government activity and expenditure. We have the federal Liberal Party promising to take the axe to this town in a way that no government has since John Howard in 1996.

As we reflect on the implications of a Liberal victory, potentially, this Saturday, we Canberrans do need to cast our minds back to 1996 and the implications of the entry into the federal parliament of John Howard and his government at that time. The implications for us were massive. We went into recession as an economy. Our population fell. It is stunning to reflect that, in 1997, the population of the ACT declined as a result of the cuts that were wreaked on the public service and on Canberra. We went into recession. Our population declined. Unemployment increased by 2.3 per cent. There were massive cuts. House prices dropped. There was major trauma within the private sector as people were laid off and enormous impacts on this town, as you can imagine.

To add insult to this, Tony Abbott summed up his attitude to Canberra and Canberrans in responding to questions about where he would live—(Time expired.)

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hargreaves, a supplementary question?

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, my supplementary to the Chief Minister is: would you anticipate any particular sector of the Canberra economy to be significantly impacted by an Abbott-led coalition government?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question. It goes to any specific aspect of Canberra or any particular sector. In relation to this particular issue, it is not a particular sector or a particular aspect of the operation of the town; it is every part of the town because of the extent to which the commonwealth as an employer is so dominant. The commonwealth or the government employs half of the people that are employed in the ACT.

It is not just in relation to employment, however. It is in relation to the economic effect or impact of the commonwealth presence in this town that half of state final demand in this town is generated by the commonwealth. That is the extent and the dominance of the commonwealth presence in this place, the national capital—not just on employment but on state final demand, on economic activity, on the flow of dollars through this city. It is inextricably linked.

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