Page 3672 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 23 August 2011

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MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.29): Cost of living pressures are an important issue. They have been talked about by a lot of people in a lot of locations. Whether you are at a kids’ football game on the weekend or at the local shops, whether you are at a Rural Fire Service dinner on Saturday night or at church on Sunday, many people are concerned about their futures and particularly the cost of living. And it comes from a raft of increases that this Labor government has put in place over the last 10 years.

We have seen the highest growth in taxation per capita in the country, equal only to WA. We have now got the most expensive water in the country. We have seen a 75 per cent increase in electricity prices over that period. We have the highest childcare costs in the nation—$60 more than the next jurisdiction Some of the most expensive housing in the country is to be found here, and we have the second highest rents in the country. That comes along with the worst waiting times for elective surgery and some of the worst emergency department waiting times in the country, the lowest GP numbers per capita in the country and the worst bulk-billing rate in the country. We have seen 23 schools closed, adding pressure to the cost of living as people have had to travel further to find education for their children, and we have seen a health system in crisis with investigations, accusations and threatened legal actions. We have a change of use charge now in place that will make houses and units even more expensive, and we have a government that just does not care.

We have got a government and, indeed, we have got a Greens party that just do not care. During the estimates discussion, which you will remember well, Mr Assistant Speaker, one of the recommendations that was put forward by Mr Hanson and me was that the budget each year would have a cost of living impact statement so that people would know what the true impact of the budget was on the ordinary taxpayer in the ACT—families and businesses in the ACT—so they could make informed decisions.

It is most extraordinary that on page 33 of the estimates report we see that the proposed recommendation of the cost of living impact statement had to go in the footnotes, because the majority of the committee—Labor and Greens members—did not want the answer. Why do they not want the answer? Why do they not want people to know what benefits actually come from the Greens-Labor alliance through the annual budget? I will tell you why they do not want to know—because, for the ordinary person, there is no benefit. All we see is increase after increase. No relief and no dividend for the extra revenue that the government collects.

Let us look at the financial year that has just been reported on. The government received $192 million above expectation for the budget—$192 million. That is almost five per cent more total revenue than they expected. That is a significant amount of money, and where does it come from? Well, at the end of the day it comes from somebody’s pocket. It comes from the taxpayers. In the main, it comes from the ordinary people of the ACT, whether they spend more on a home or whether they pay the government more.

The cost of living is perhaps the most fundamental factor affecting the way people live. People need the capacity to provide at least the basic requirements for themselves and their families, especially such matters as shelter, food, clothing,

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