Page 1992 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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This is the other great line, and I think Mr Smyth went to this. Wayne Swan’s excuse for this is that revenues have declined. Well, revenues have not. As a matter of fact, revenues have gone up by seven per cent, and they are forecast to go up by eight per cent next year. That is a massive increase in revenue. So why is it then that we are getting a massive deficit—$19 billion followed by $18 billion? I will tell you why. It is because this is a government that cannot manage its budget, and we are being delivered cuts into Canberra that are going to cut deep into Canberra families. And why? Because the federal Labor Party has wreaked havoc on our economy, and Canberrans are going to pay. They were conned about it by their federal representatives, and now Andrew Barr and Katy Gallagher are not supporting them, are not standing up as they should be. I commend this motion.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.50): Last night’s federal budget is one that is, in many quarters, still being fully digested, but already there are issues identified in the budget that are of real concern. Certainly from a Greens perspective, there are things in there that are quite short term and that have failed to tackle some of the important issues. We have seen a situation where cuts are being made to real and important services. The necessary increases in things like Newstart that both the NGO and business sector have supported have not been followed through. The budget has failed to tackle real issues like cutting fossil fuel subsidies, which cost the federal government literally billions of dollars a year. Those issues have not been tackled. There has been a failure to address important social and environmental issues in the budget.

There are some missed opportunities in the budget. I am particularly concerned by the funding cuts to universities. Mr Smyth said earlier, and I share much of the sentiment he expressed in his comments, that this is quite a short-term thing. We discussed this yesterday in the context of Mr Seselja’s matter of public importance. The approach that has been taken by federal Labor to cut money from the university sector to fund the Gonski reforms is incredibly short-sighted. It is a poor decision and one that has been reinforced by the budget last night. The universities are drivers of the future wellbeing of Australia at both a social and an economic level. This decision is simply a poor, short-term decision.

We see in the budget a $685 million cut to renewable energy and energy efficiency—again, measures that will prepare Australia for the future in terms of providing clean, cost-effective energy sources. There has been a failure to get on with improving energy efficiency in this country and that simply keeps driving up the energy bills of both households and the business sector in this country. It is disappointing to see a cut of $257 million to the biodiversity fund, which was part of the carbon tax arrangements. Again, this is a real missed opportunity. We know there are important issues that need to be addressed in Australia.

Similarly, there are the cuts to the CSIRO. The cuts to the CSIRO are one of those areas that, again, are not unlike the situation with the universities. Not unlike the university sector, the CSIRO is an important driver of Australia’s future economic prosperity. Let us strip the politics from it—we know that Labor and Liberal are going to spend the next week or two slugging it out over who is better and who is worse and

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