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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 February 2015) . . Page.. 138 ..

How will the government make up their shortfall while constantly fixated on light rail, constantly ignoring the business community? The people of the ACT are telling us that they are hurting, that their rates are going up. We all know that rates will triple. We have got it from the Quinlan review. We know that rates will triple and are going up, and you only need to look at the documents in the budget papers to see the increases in the rates that will come year on year. When you look at them, you can see that we have already had huge increases and there are increases to come. The sum collected from general rates, based on the figures in the current year’s budget, goes up by 12 per cent next year. In 2016-17 it goes up by another 12 per cent, and in 2017-18 it goes up by another nine per cent of the total take.

The problem for people is that is coming out of their pockets, and they are doing it tough. Because they are doing it tough they are not spending, and we have got this spiral where retail, which is really the eyes of your economy, is not doing well in the ACT. And you have to ask: what is the government to do? Doom and gloom, yes. “It is all Tony Abbott’s fault or it is Mr Fluffy’s fault or it is instability in the world markets.” But it is never this government’s fault.

But when you look at the state of the budget, what you see is that this government always outspends what it earns. And therein lies the problem. We look at, for instance, the 2013-14 actual outcome. Revenue was $4.3 billion, expenditure was $4.5 million. In the original 2014-15 budget, expenditure was $4.8 billion against $4.4 billion in revenue. The revised budget has it at $5.3 billion of expenditure against $4.4 billion of revenue. And so it goes on. In the 2015-16 revised estimate, the revenue is expected to be $4.6 billion and they will spend $5 billion. And in 2016-17, there is $4.9 billion in revenue and call it $5.1 billion in expenses. The dilemma is that the government spends so much without a way of sustaining it.

Yes, Mr Barr, since becoming Chief Minister, talks proudly about delivering typical Labor values. He is certainly delivering typical Labor budgets and typical Labor economic management. It is the debt and the deficit, and that leads to increased taxes, fees and charges that ordinary folks have to pay. You only have to look at some of the enormous increases last year to see that.

We have seen how debt has grown. We have seen how the deficits have grown. Indeed, it is interesting in the update this year that, when you look at the tables, net debt is up 4.3 per cent, net financial liability is up 13.4 per cent. When you look at net worth it has declined from $16.7 billion, as the original figure in the budget, to $16.3 billion in the budget review. And these are things that the people of the ACT will suffer from.

So it is time that the government detailed the impact of the midyear review on people’s households. It is time they told people what they are doing. And it is time that they gave people some surety that their cost of living is not going to blow out. And we all know how effective the cost of living statement is. It is why the Liberals put it in the Financial Management Act. We know that in the first year fees and charges from the government went up almost $600 for the average household. They got a little wiser last year. They split it into a number of scenarios. But they go up. They go up every year, without any consideration of the people that have to pay it.

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