Page 883 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013
ordinary expectation is that these will be included in the budget papers. These are pieces of information which will become available, but, as Mr Smyth I imagine appreciates, those are still subject to budget consideration.
It is appropriate to call on the government to manage the budget in a particular way. It is obviously a prerogative of the Assembly to express that position. I agree that the initiatives listed in the amendment are issues we should all be supporting because they will deliver great benefits to the community—things such as the provision of high quality disability services through the NDIS and the various others outlined in Mr Barr’s amendment. This comes back to the observation I made earlier—that is, it is appropriate for the government to continue to invest in important community infrastructure. The challenge for the government is to do that in the context of returning the budget to surplus. That is not an easy job but one that is very necessary, and we will be sticking to the task very carefully. On that basis and having made those few remarks, I will support the amendment put forward by Mr Barr.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (5.40): I thank Mr Smyth for bringing on this motion. I also note his long-term commitment to the issue of our budget in the ACT. There has been no greater champion over the last few years of fiscal good management than Brendan Smyth. It stands in some contrast to, I think, Mr Barr, who has a Swan-esque approach to budget surpluses. He is claiming it is a surplus for three years before it is actually delivered, as opposed to Wayne Swan, who at least has the good decency only to claim the surplus a year before it actually goes into deficit.
I note the ludicrous situation we have where the Greens member is standing up and speaking as a Green and commentating on the government when he is the government. I just wonder how long this facade can continue, where you have got the Greens member saying, “It’s important that we call on the government to do this and we call on the government to do that.” He is the government. He is a minister of this government. How long do we have to put up with this ridiculous charade in this place?
This government has been characterised by infrastructure cost blowouts, deficits, increasing rates and charges and increasing borrowings. While real taxation has increased by 55 per cent since 2001-02, becoming the highest tax jurisdiction on a per capita basis, the government continues to spend beyond its means and the deficits continue to grow.
Let us look at the current budget position. In 2012-13 alone, we can see the budget deteriorating. The original budget predicted a huge deficit of $318.3 million in 2012-13. A pre-election budget update saw this blow out to a record $381.1 million. Now the budget review has this slightly improved to $362.9 million. Despite the Treasurer claiming this $362.9 million as an improvement, it is still $44.6 million worse than the deficit predicted in the budget. In fact, over the four years the budget position deteriorated by $82 million between the pre-election budget update and the budget review to a total of $575 million.