Page 884 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013

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But this is not new. Ever since Katy Gallagher presented her first budget in 2009-10, the budget has always predicted a cumulative deficit over the forward estimates. That is, over the four years the government plans to outspend what it receives. In 2009-10 this was a $778 million deficit, in 2010-11 a $472 million deficit, in 2011-12 an $18.5 million deficit and in 2012-13 it was initially a $609 million deficit. What is more, since Katy Gallagher became Treasurer a few years ago now, the much anticipated surplus is getting further and further away. In the 2009-10 and 2010-11 budgets there were not estimated surpluses. In the 2011-12 budget the surplus was estimated to occur in 2013-14, with a surplus of $1.6 million in 2013-14 and a surplus of $56.6 million in 2014-15. This was then delayed in the 2012-13 budget with a surplus of $5.2 million not expected until 2015-16. Now the budget review shows a surplus of $29 million in 2015-16. Who here believes that that is going to be delivered? You would have to be bold, wouldn’t you? Let us be clear about this. That $29.3 million surplus is achieved not by prudent financial management, spending less than we are receiving; it is achieved through long-term capital gains from superannuation.

Expenses continue to outmatch revenue. While this is occurring, ACT Labor continues to spend more and more, showing little restraint. Borrowings have increased to $2.7 billion this financial year. ACT Labor’s costed election policies total more than $1 billion over the forward estimates. This $1 billion—if they are promises that were already in the budget then you probably should have been more honest with your election promises, Andrew, if that is your response—does not include the $614 million construction cost of light rail, the $340 million for the University of Canberra hospital or additional policies outlined in the Greens-Labor parliamentary agreement. As mentioned by my colleague Mr Smyth, the Treasurer has said that, no matter what the cost, light rail will be built.

Mr Barr: That’s not what I said. Have you read the full transcript?

MR HANSON: That is exactly what you said. I have read it. I have read the full transcript and it is very clear. It is very clear that ultimately you do not know what it will cost. Mr Barr, I would suspect that you had some concerns about it, but your government, led by the Chief Minister, sold any sense of fiscal probity to get the Greens into government, to secure your government. Light rail was part of that little equation, wasn’t it, Andrew? And now what we are seeing is that you have got to deliver light rail, regardless of the cost, to make sure that you lot stay on those benches over there. Now, $630 million, is that the latest estimate? Does anybody believe that that is what it is going to be delivered for? Again, it is a bit like an Andrew Barr budget surplus: you have to be bold to believe it.

If the government wants to get its deficit and financial position under control, it has got to start making some tough decisions. It cannot have it all. In a media release of 14 February 2013 the Treasurer stated that it will ensure the budget position is sustainable in the long term and will ensure expenditure restraint by driving savings and efficiencies in the use of consultants, advertising, travel and printing, delaying some projects, continuing to review the capital program and further driving efficiency in the ACT public service.

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