Page 980 - Week 03 - Thursday, 28 February 2013
the person, on their sense of self-worth, their family and their connections to their community. It is disappointing that those opposite do not seem to understand this and cannot be trusted to protect jobs.
Before the 1996 federal election, the then member for Namadgi, Brendan Smyth, promised the Liberals would cut only 2,500 public sector jobs by natural attrition. “There will be a reduction of a maximum of 2,500 jobs over three years,” Mr Smyth said in the Canberra Times on 24 February 1996; “We will achieve this through natural reductions.”
Soon after John Howard came to power he began slashing and burning the public service. More than 30,000 public servants were sacked, driving Canberra into recession. I remember that very clearly, because I was working for the union that was trying to save jobs in early childhood centres that were forced to close as a result of public service jobs being slashed. That is no place that I want to go back to. This did not stop Tony Abbott from saying last year that “Canberra did very well under the Howard government”. Not in my memory, and not in the memories of a lot of working people.
While Liberals may trumpet their callous desire to sack 20,000 public servants, it is worth those opposite reflecting on the human and economic toll of such actions. Labor will not fall for such callous disregard for people’s lives and livelihoods. We will always support working people in this town.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.03): It is always a pleasure when Ms Berry brings on one of these MPIs and simply reads the speech that is provided for her. I think it is worth putting it into some perspective, because what she does not tell is the full story. Let us go to the unemployment stats. When Labor came to office in 2007, the unemployment rate in the ACT was 2.5 per cent. After 2007, we had a local Labor government and we had a federal Labor government, and unemployment rose by 80 per cent. It has gone from 2.5 to 4.5 per cent.
Ms Berry conveniently forgot to tell that, I think, very vital statistic, and that is the problem with her case. She never tells the full story, apart from the factual inaccuracy in that the seat of Namadgi only came into being in 1996. So if you are going to start that sort of slur campaign, you must at least get your facts straight. There you go. There is cant. All we get is cant. What we do not get is the truth, and that is the shame of this, because it is a serious thing. I want to agree with her on one thing: employment is a very serious issue.
Before the last federal election, what did the three Labor candidates, Senator Lundy, Gai Brodtmann and Andrew Leigh, tell everybody? There would be no job cuts. There would be no jobs pain. There was no need, because we were on track for surpluses, and nobody gets sacked when you have got a surplus. But we do not have a surplus and what we have is federal Labor’s job cuts, aided and abetted by ACT Labor, who has not stood up to them.
The only party in this place to stand up to federal Labor and their job cuts is the Canberra Liberals, and we will stand up to our Liberal colleagues as well, if we need