Page 886 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.50): In closing the debate, as predicted the Treasurer has squibbed it. He veils it by saying he is clarifying what the government are doing. As I said, they will not tell us a single detail, aided and abetted by Mr Rattenbury, who unfortunately seems to be quite comfortable with the government—
Mr Barr: Brendan, it’s not budget day, is it?
MR SMYTH: No, but I made that point. You can say, “Wait till the budget.” That is four months away. You have said you are about to do all these things, but apparently you have no idea what you are doing. You can call it clarifying if you want. That means you have no idea, you are unable or you are unwilling to tell us what is going to happen.
We did not actually get a single item that addresses 2(a). You just totally ignored 2(b)—“detail the impact of these measures on the community”. Again, we go back to using the numbers with the pat response of the government when they get these sorts of motions. You might as well have just tabled your press release as the amendment because all you have done is cut and paste from the press release what the detail is there. We seek more detail than what you put out in the press release. I think the public have a right, when the government say they are reviewing what they are doing, to know at least what direction they are going in and what that means. What we have got from the government, yet again, is contempt for the community because they will not tell us how they are going to manage the budget. They talked about everything except what we asked for and that is unfortunate.
The Treasurer has actually put a few more things out there that he probably did not mean to. For instance, he referred to the lease variation tax. Of course, the lease variation tax exposes another hole in the budget. The value from the lease variation tax was hypothecated to the urban improvement fund. We are down $7 million this year already. The government have downgraded what they expect to get from the lease variation tax by $4 million. I predict, based on the last six quarters, it will be a significantly larger figure than that. They therefore have to fund that gap in the urban improvement fund. Where will that money come from?
The minister spoke about delaying capital works projects, for instance, in new suburbs. We are going to push out the infrastructure because we do not expect to be able to sell the land. That therefore highlights a further softening in the dividends from the LDA. We know, because of the ICRC report yesterday, that the ACTEW dividend is looking a bit shaky at this time.
We ask reasonable questions about the future of the budget and the future of the economy of the ACT. It would be reasonable to get an answer, but there is never any reasonableness from this Treasurer. All he simply says is, “You can wait till I’m good and ready in June.” We will wait. We will be patient; we always are.
Mr Barr: You are not in budget cabinet, Brendan, so you do not get the benefit of making those decisions, do you?