Page 1985 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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This is a government of broken promises but at the end of the day it is ordinary people, in our case the people we represent, Canberrans, who suffer the pain. And it is a triple whammy, this budget, to the ACT. Three of our biggest employers are the public service, education and the tertiary sector and people in the property sector. And yet they are the sectors that will cop an inordinately high impact from this budget.

We had a Treasurer stand up and say, “We want to be a smarter nation,” but then he pitted sectors of the education community against each other. Bill Shorten this morning at the Canberra Business Council breakfast was saying, “How can you argue against funding a primary school?” True, how can you argue against funding a primary school? But at the same time, how can you argue against funding higher education? Mr Shorten went on to say 20 per cent of the jobs that people will have 10 to 15 years from now have not even been invented yet. Where will those jobs come from? They will come out of the higher education sector.

The government are saying this is a budget about jobs, but they are cutting the potential sources of those jobs now. So you have to question: will we be ready 10, 15, 20 years from now for those new jobs as a consequence of what this government have done? It is dreadful politics to play one section of the education system off against another.

Again, a large number of the questions this morning were about the cuts to higher ed. People see higher education as something all Australians should be proud of and, indeed, in the city that has the highest level of residents with degrees in the country it is quite clear that Canberrans understand that. But it is quite clear that the federal government does not understand that and that, of course, has an impact on the people of the ACT.

We see some of the changes regarding HECS and discounts, which again affect people who want to get ahead of the system but are now being penalised for doing that. This is an attack on the higher education system. It is unwarranted, and had the government managed its affairs and its budget better, it would be unnecessary.

I will leave members to look at the significant waste section on their own. I think they all understand that. What we want from this motion is for the government to detail in the budget what the full impacts of the sixth federal Labor budget are on the ACT. They did, in fact, put back our budget, which would normally have been issued probably next week, a month so that the impacts could be incorporated. It is important we understand the full impacts. The government have the ability to do that so that we can go back to the federal government and say, “This is not a good budget for the people of the ACT.”

MADAM SPEAKER: Before I call you, Chief Minister, and for the benefit of other members, Mr Smyth, you did in your comments refer to members of another parliament and said that they lied. The standing orders do not require me to ask you to withdraw such a comment because it was not against a member of the Assembly or a member of our judiciary. However, I would like, in the interests of civility, to enjoin members not to make such accusations against other members of parliament as well. Chief Minister.

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