Page 2971 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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One of the issues that really do come up in conversations with the people that I meet around the territory is that it is getting tougher. It is difficult for them to get the value out of their dollars that they used to get. I think there was a report yesterday that groceries have gone up by something like $1,500 over the last two years, the average grocery spend of a family. This has a very big impact, particularly on those families with limited incomes. We know that rents are high in the ACT. We know that the cost of housing is incredibly high in the ACT because of government policy.

We are not going to blame them for the cost of bananas, which is now up around $16 a kilo, but the cost of your grocery basket does feed into the true cost of living. It is not a CPI measurement but it is part of the true cost of living. We know the government does have a supermarket policy that seems to be failing. Are they delivering what they said they would through the supermarket policy? And you truly have to question that. So the recommendation is very important.

At the end of the day we are here to represent the people that live in the ACT. If we do not know what the impacts of each budget are on those families, then we should know. I would be delighted if at the end of this line the Treasurer stood up and said, “As a consequence of the coming year’s budget we know it will add X to ACT residents’ household budgets.” Firstly, I bet she does not have that number, because the work has not been done. Secondly, I bet she does not stand up and give it to us even if she does have it. So it is about openness and accountability. It really is bringing down to the most personal level what the impact of the budget is. If we do not know what we are doing for families, then we really should know.

I would like to finish this area by speaking about the great big office block. There is a bit of a smell of hypocrisy now surrounding the Chief Minister in her attempts to deflect criticism about the proposed great big new ACT government office block. The day before yesterday, in her response to the report of the estimates committee, the Chief Minister said:

… I would also like to express my concern with the level of time, disproportionate to the scrutiny of other important budgetary issues, spent on the government office building. While the government values and embraces the scrutiny process, a disproportionate amount of time has been spent on this project, to the detriment of scrutiny over other equally important projects, programs and community services. The government has been open and transparent with the provision of detailed analysis and findings to support the decision to proceed with the project, but this is not where the majority of taxpayer resources are being invested.

One can actually question whether the government has been open and transparent with the provision of detailed analysis, and I think the fact that there are almost 20 recommendations from the tripartisan estimates committee on this area, seeking in the main more information, clearly shows that people do not believe that the government is being open and transparent.

These comments should be enough of a worry to the Canberra community, but now consider what the Chief Minister said on radio on this issue. There is a report on ABC

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